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Categories: Reports

RedLine TimeAttack 2010: Chris Rado And World Racing

On: Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 2:25PM | By: John Welch


The BUSINESS! test 2

Before we delve into Chris Rado and his World Racing team’s disappointing weekend, there is a little story I have to tell. Standing in the paddock of Sebring International Raceway, wondering just how hot is was outside, I put down my Canon, wiped my forehead and simply observed the World Racing crew for a few moments. I had spent the last twenty minutes taking as many revealing images of Chris Rado's outrageous Scion tCs as I could, and had yet to actually see Mr. Rado himself. Out of the corner of my right eye I noticed a hauler door open and a fire-suit clad Rado step out into the unnerving Florida sunshine.
 
I've met a few race drivers in my time, NASCAR guys mostly, and it took all of my limited self-control not to strut right up to Rado and start yakking at the guy as if we had grown up on the same street. Rado inspected his "tame" Scion, the Super Modified FWD contender you see in most of the images accompanying this post; he displayed a scrunched forehead, a serious posture. I decided perhaps it might not be the best idea to bother him at the moment. After 30 seconds of discussion with a crew member, Rado, completely unaware that I was spying on him harder than a jilted Astronaut spies on her fantasy crewmate, displayed true sportsmanship like I have never seen in a race paddock, professional or otherwise.

Without touching either of his own cars, Rado walked over to one of his litany of air compressors and began assembling a hose and air chuck. A flat-black and red Honda Accord pulled up to the left of World Racing's pits, and it's driver, Sean Yearwood, threw the Honda into 'Park' (I know it’s a manual, how do you use that cliché without ‘Park’?) and gingerly climbed out of the Super Modified FWD-class Accord. That is the most important part of this entire story, Yearwood and his Honda compete in the same class as Rado and his be-winged Scion tC. Direct competitors . . . and Rado was actually helping Yearwood out, allowing the Honda driver to use his equipment and spending his own time and energy to make sure the compressor hose was long enough and that the tank was full of air. Never have I seen a racer help his competition out so thoroughly, going out of his way to make sure Yearwood ran his best time, and the fans were entertained. I decided that this act of selflessness had earned Rado a reprieve from my badgering, and did not approach him.

Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest, we can focus on World Racing's insane Scions, Rado's bad racing luck, and the images that accompany his trip to Sebring, Florida.


GM Completes IPO Paperwork

On: Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 8:58AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


 GM Completes IPO Paperwork  test 1-1

In automotive news, General Motors Co. has completed the long-awaited paperwork for its initial public offering (IPO) with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The paperwork will be complete after filing with the SEC in a matter of days, according to an unidentified source who asked not to be named because the arrangements are private.

The S-1 filing is only the first stage of the process of getting GM’s IPO initiated. It could be several months before the stock is re-listed on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.

According to Automotive News; “GM updated its several-hundred page S-1 document to add a management risk factor after Chief Executive Ed Whitacre announced on Thursday he would step down and be succeeded by Dan Akerson effective September, the source said.” “The surprise announcement last week was a factor that delayed GM's IPO filing by several days, several people close to the process have said.”

Per Reuters; GM anticipates generating between $15 billion to $20 billion, which will be one of the largest IPO’s in history.  The company plans to use the proceeds to go toward the debt from the bailout last year, in which General Motors currently has $45 billion outstanding. GM will have its line of credit increased by $5 billion, according to a few sources the banks that have agreed to provide the line of credit are as follows; Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, UBS AG and Royal Bank of Canada. The ten banks will also act as underwriters for the stock offering. GM will add more banks while keeping the line of credit at $5 billion in order to reduce each bank’s liability.

The most recent quarterly filing by GM listed Akerson’s appointment as CEO, as well as Chris Liddell as CFO.  "Within the past year we have substantially changed our executive management team," GM said in Monday's filing. "We have elected a new chief executive officer ... and a new chief financial officer ... both of whom have no outside automotive industry experience."


RedLine TimeAttack 2010: Sebring International Raceway

On: Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 6:23PM | By: John Welch


RedLine TimeAttack 2010: Sebring International Raceway test 1-1

Sebring is as historic a race track as there is in the world. True, it isn't Le Mans or Monaco, and Americans would most likely name Daytona, Indianapolis, or Talledega before they would Sebring; the fact remains, this former B-17 training facility is hallowed ground.

I love Daytona, very much, but it just doesn't have the same panache as Sebring. The luxury-suites at Daytona are named for companies like General Mills, Lowes, and Fed-Ex; the suites on the front stretch of the Sebring race course are named after Audi, Panoz, and Chapparal. There is an unmistakable difference in historic quality between the two tracks and the events they entertain. Daytona is an enterprise for generating cash-flow, Sebring International Raceway is a beacon of purity in an otherwise tainted marketplace . . .

And the RedLine Time Attack Series fits right in with the philosophies of Sebring, real or completely dreamed up by myself as I struggled to suppress my child-like giddiness, almost vomiting as I ran a trembling finger over the Armco barrier on Sebring's front straight. From this position I was looking at cement that has stood the test of time. Unaltered for nearly 60 years, the front stretch at Sebring is a sight any American-born sports car enthusiast has to take in, at least once, before they die. The RedLine Time Attack event, held between August 13th and 15th, afforded me more access to more parts of Sebring than I have ever had before, and for that I am thoroughly grateful to the event organizers and participants. I hope my home state and fellow Floridians were able to make them feel welcome, as I will be bitterly disappointed if the event does not return to Sebring next year. After viewing the images and reading the stories the AutoShopper was able to collect during this stunning production car-based race, you too will be champing at the bit for the 2011 RedLine Time Attack at Sebring International Raceway, in the middle of nowhere, Florida . . .


Toyota Gets Political, Stops Exports To Iran

On: Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 9:21AM | By: Chris Weiss


The Toyota Land Cruiser test 2

In 2010, there are few entities that have a worse reputation than Toyota. One of those select few is Iran. The Middle Eastern nation is allegedly developing nuclear weapons, much to the displeasure of an international group that includes the U.S., Europe and the United Nations. The nation vehemently denies these allegations, stating that it's nuclear program is for peaceful, energy-related purposes only. It contends that it has a sovereign right to pursue a nuclear energy program without interference from the international community.

Well, the world ain't buyin' that line, and neither is Toyota. A CNN report last week indicates that it has ceased exports to Iran, a move that analysts say is largely symbolic and meant to strengthen the message to the nation.


 

Tower Automotive To Be Featured in TheTransformers 3

On: Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 5:26PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Tower Automotive To Be Featured in TheTransformers 3 test 1-1

According to the Business Journal of Milwaukee, the movie Transformers 3 was filmed, in part, in the city of Milwaukee at the site of Tower Automotive earlier this year.

The Milwaukee visitors bureau, Visit Milwaukee, announced that the Tower site, on the north side of the city, along with the Milwaukee Art Museum, will be featured in scenes from the upcoming movie Transformers 3.

A cast and crew of about 150 traveled to Milwaukee the week of July 12 to film what Visit Milwaukee calls "a pivotal scene" at the museum.

Why Tower Automotive? It has been predicted that the scene will be focused on automotive design, perhaps, of the new combat robots featured in the movie. Tower is one of the largest suppliers of metal structural components in the United States, and they offer a broad range of metal structures including stampings and complex body and frame assemblies for literally every major automotive vehicle manufacturer—a setting realistic enough for a movie about a plant that makes combat robots!


Low Cost Infiniti G25 Slides In Beneath G37

On: Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 5:12PM | By: John Welch


Infinit G25 Sedan test 2

This is one product unveiling that could be a great success, or a monumental failure. Infiniti plans to sell the G25 in the United States, beginning in September. The G25 will become the base model for the G-Series, expanding the newly redesigned G lineup. Stickering for $31,825, the G25 represents a $2,300 dollar saving versus the G37.

Is that money enough to overcome the 110 bhp defecit? The G37 generates 328 ponies, while the new 2.5 liter V6 (built on the same VQ architecture as the 3.7 liter engine) can muster only 218. It is likely that the G25 will get better mileage than the G37, but it lacks options such as the Sport suspension upgrades and a Navigation system. You can't order them, don't even think about it.

All Wheel Drive is another option suffering strange circumstances. Though it is available, AWD comes only with the Journey option package, a geroup of conviences that includes rearview monitor, automatic temperature control, automatic headlights, heated front seats, and heated outside mirrors. Infinit's rear view camera and interface is one of the best on the market.

Is this car going to be worth it the loss in power? There is a school of thought that says older drivers might shy away from a car possesing 328 horsepower, that it might be dangerous or difficult to control. Large Nissan V6s are infamous for sucking down gasoline like Liza Manelli sucks down martinis. Though no fuel usage statistics have been released, it is conceivable that the G25 could achieve 30 mpg, a huge selling point during our country's current Eco-Buzz.

We will reserve judgement until the G25, on sale in September, is seen on our roads . . .


Ed Whitacre Out After GM Posts Best Quarter Since 2004

On: Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 3:48PM | By: John Welch


Ed Whitacre Jr. test 2

GM has a lot of things to be happy about lately, but are those 'things' real or imagined? GM posted a net profit of $1.3 billion dollars this morning, a far cry from the $12.9 billion net loss during the second quarter last year. Rumor has it that these numbers are inflated by fleet sales. Only time will tell; as it is, this is nothing but good news.

Another bombshell dropped today, in the form of Ed "Tex" Whitacre hanging up his ten-gallon Alan Mullay hat and stepping down as chairman of General Motors. He will be replaced by Daniel Akerson, GM board member since July 2009, after a long career in telecommunications. Akerson is 61 years of age, and there is no reason to believe that he will not be able to successfully man GM's helm when the company's IPO goes public this fall.

Full press release and hard numbers inside the post . . .


GM Exec: No Mid-Engine Corvette, But Maybe a Hybrid

On: Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 10:38AM | By: Chris Weiss


GM Exec: No Mid-Engine Corvette, But Maybe a Hybrid  test 1-1

Rumors of the next-generation Corvette incorporating a mid-mounted engine have been running rampant for several years. This week, however, they've been put officially to rest. GM 's Karl-Friedrich Stracke, VP of global vehicle engineering, said that there will be no mid-engine Corvette, indicating that we can expect the next-generation Corvette to feature the same front-engine configuration that it's always sported. However, Stracke did leave the door open for a Corvette with hybrid powertrain.

According to Autoweek, Stracke, in response to the rumors, said: “I don't know who made this public. I think it is wrong.”

While that short quote is open to interpretation, a follow-up from GM spokesman Dan Flores was a little more definitive: “The rumors and speculation about the Corvette are just that. There is no mid-engine in the plans."


Tacoma Production Produces Jobs In Texas

On: Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 10:10AM | By: John Welch


2011 Toyota Tacoma test 2

The Toyota Tacoma has typically sold well in the US, even when domestic competitors have seen their small truck sales slump, like Stacks after his Tommy DeVito lead sandwich. Causing us to like the reliable Tacoma that much more, Toyota has hired 1,000 workers at the TMMTX (Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas) facility in San Antonio, Texas.

Hit hard by the effects of slow sales, TMMTX didn't panic and start printing pink slips by the hundreds. Instead of lay-offs, this facility retained its workforce and focused on improving processes and 'team member skills'. The official plant opening was attended by Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Toyota Motor Corporation Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi. The Toyota-supplied press release inside the post . . .


Obama Says U.S. Will Continue to Support Automotive Jobs

On: Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 9:19AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Obama Says U.S. Will Continue to Support  Automotive Jobs test 1-1

President Barack Obama, after visiting with the Big Three Detroit automakers, told workers at a Chicago-based Ford Motor Co. plant that they are a crucial part of today’s economy. “I refuse to walk away from this industry and American jobs,” Obama said after touring a factory where Ford, the only Big 3 U.S. automaker that didn’t take bailout money, will begin assembling the new 2011 Explorer later this year. “I have put my money on the American worker. I have put my money on the American worker.”

As many people know, last year’s bailout money that GM and Chrysler Group received helped the automakers to avoid eliminating literally hundreds of thousands of jobs, which according to Barack Obama would have resulted in “severe consequences for the U.S. economy.” Obama announced that Ford Motor Co. would qualify for a $250 million guarantee loan from the Export-Import Bank to finance the shipment of over 200,000 U.S.-made Ford vehicles including, of course, the new redesigned Ford Explorer to Canada and Mexico.


Grand Thrown Down At Watkins Glen, Ganassi Takes Number Seven!

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 4:47PM | By: John Welch


Grand Thrown Down At Watkins Glen, Ganassi Takes Number Seven! test 1-1

The race was going quickly . . . very quickly. By the middle of the first hour it appeared that the Crown Royal 200 at the Glen was going to go the distance caution free, something that has never happened at Watkins Glen. With no yellow flags to slow and bunch the field, the race leaders were running a blistering pace. The No. 01 Ganassi BMW averaged a startling 120.679 mph on its way to the 7th victory of the season for Ganassi.

Tying the Rolex Series record for wins in one season is a big deal (especially considering there are two races left, with no signs of weakness from the Ganassi bunch), but the margin was paper thin. Scott Pruett brought the attractive (for a DP) BMW/Riley across the line 2.722 seconds ahead of the Wayne Taylor Dallara driven by Max ('The Ax') Angelelli. These two cars rubbed fenders all day, but, as usual, Scott Pruett came out on top.