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Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

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 . . .

A Short Rant On The Eve Of The Shopper's First NASCAR Race . . .

On: Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 4:27PM | By: John Welch

A Short Rant On The Eve Of The Shopper's First NASCAR Race . . .  test 1-1

NASCAR is not a topic we devote a ton of time to (well, no time at all, yet) because, like Formula 1, it is heavily copyrighted and there are billions of other places to get info on either series. We like to stick to our favorites, if we can, series such as the ALMS, Grand-Am, and other assorted North American racing. Drifting, rally, and random sports cars can all be found here, but generally NASCAR is left to Speedtv.com, NASCAR.com, and everyone else with an affinity for turning left. That is, until we get a dedicated NASCAR writer, which we are currently attempting to obtain.

Slow going on that front, the human race is becoming disenfranchised with rolling billboards that have absolutely zero relevance to the autos being sold by today's manufacturers. Exactly which Toyota is it that is powered by a push-rod actuated V8 again? That's right, there isn't one! Which means Toyota developed the engine just for stock-car racing (and Tanner Foust's wicked Scion tC, which, itself, has little, if anything, to do with an actual Scion tC), thereby proving what is already obvious: developing new methods of brake cooling is the only thing NASCAR does for the auto industry, as a whole.

Seriously, the justification for racing is the development and implementation of new parts and systems in road cars, not a circle jerk for Cheerios, Pennzoil, and freaking cell phone companies. All other racing employs sponsorship; don't get me wrong, but other forms of racing are directly responsible for traction control, self-tightening belts, Rain-X, HID lightning, variable valve timing, suspension lightening and strengthening, and suspension design, on the whole. Carbon fiber, carbon Kevlar, dual-clutch gear boxes (Porsche 962, loogitup!), methods of engine cooling, passenger cooling, aerodynamics, methods for testing . . . this list could go on for days. NASCAR contributes tiny 15-inch rims that limit brake size. They then go to short tracks and road courses and run those brakes into the ground. The research done at the track has directly affected brake development at many companies, Brembo and Stop Tech being two of the biggest and most recognizable. Compare that with the developments and advancements achieved in Rally, sports car, or Formula 1 racing, and one might think that NASCAR is doing the rest of the racing world a slight disservice.

In no way am I stating any sort of hatred for NASCAR, just a disgust at its popularity relative to its competitors. NASCAR absolutely has its place. Think about what is going on out on the track: a Sprint Cup stock car is heavy, really heavy, 3,400 lbs. to be exact. There is no other serious race car on this planet approaching that sort of mass, not even close. Even dirt modifieds weigh a thousand or more pounds less. That heavy car is fitted with a fussy, nearly six-liter V8. These engines wind out to more than 9,000 rpm, and stay there for 350 to 600 miles. Pegged, at redline, for three hours. The technology may no longer be relevant to anyone other than Chevrolet customers, but the fact that these engines can squish on push-rods for that amount of time is just an astounding feat of engineering. It is a total shame that that engineering doesn't matter to anyone other than Corvette, Bentley, and truck buyers.

Lotus Cars Consults With Advisors From BMW and GM

On: Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 10:41AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Tom Purves test 2

It has always been said that if you want to be rich, surround yourself with millionaires; advice that Lotus Cars Ltd., British automaker, has taken seriously as the company plans to team up with automotive expert, Bob Lutz from GM, and retired BMW and Rolls Royce exec.; Tom Purves, regarding a 5-year turn-around plan.

According to auto week.com source, Lutz who has been retired only 2 months from GM, is talking to Lotus, but no formal offer has been accepted.  Purves reportedly stated, in a phone conversation, that he wants to be involved in the project, but plans have not yet been finalized.  Purves was quoted as saying; “The goal is to make a contribution to projects of the future--improving the quality, the product offerings and the operations of the company,” Perves also stated: “It's exciting, and there is no question it is a great brand and has a good future.”


Chrysler Sales Soar To 35% Increase Over June 2009

On: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 4:37PM | By: John Welch

Chrysler Sales Soar To 35% Increase Over June 2009 test 1-1

Numbers numbers numbers numbers . . . every story always has a ton of numbers. I'm getting really sick of numbers. Currently Chrysler is nutty about numbers. Compared with the same time last year, June's numbers were good numbers. They're still numbers, and I still hate 'em. College Algebra can bite it!

Here are some numbers for you: 68,297. That is the number of vehicles sold by Chrysler in June, 2009.

92,482, the number of vehicles sold in June 2010. Jeep sales rose 25%, on an 86% jump Jeep Wrangler sales. Dodge sales increased 67% due to strong sales of the Charger, Avenger (puke!) and Challenger (yes please!). Even the lowly mini-vans got in on the act, sales of the Chrysler Town & Country rose 34% and sales of the Dodge Caravan jumped nearly 50%.

“This 35% increase in year-over-year sales shows that we continue to build on our sales momentum," said Fred Diaz, lead executive for Chrysler’s U.S. sales, in a statement. Sure sure, but do you have to use so many damn numbers to help make your point? I mean, isn't there another way? Is it strange that a grown adult is searching for some sort of flow chart that involves bright colors and pictures and not so much numbers? Continue into the post for more info on Chrysler's uplifting month . . .

U.S. Auto Sales Predicted to Be Low in June

On: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 12:06PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

U.S. Auto Sales Predicted to Be Low in June test 1-1

The automotive industry in the U.S. is not looking like recovery will be just around the corner, in fact Bloomberg News reports that; “U.S. auto sales this month probably posted the smallest increase since February as consumers concerned about unemployment and the economy avoid large purchases.”

Forecasters predict that sales of cars and light trucks may have slowed in June after May’s improvement.  Automakers sold 1.1 million vehicles in May, the best month so far this year. J.D. Power and Associates, Truecar.com is predicting that June sales will drop below 1 million.

Dangers of Leaving Children Unattended in Cars

On: Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 10:31AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Dangers of Leaving Children Unattended in Cars test 1-1

It’s that time of year again when the tragic statistics start to appear nationwide regarding unfortunate children who die of heat stroke from either being left in cars or accidently getting trapped in automobiles in the heat. Every year the numbers seem to be very predictable, but this year some research indicates that that number is on the rise.

Eight kids across the nation in the toddler/infant age group have reportedly died since June 13th this year, the largest number in over 10 years.

Susan West, a registered nurse in Oklahoma who was interviewed by News Ok.com, reports that children have many special physical challenges when their bodies cope with rising temperatures.  Kids have less overall body fluid so they dehydrate much more rapidly than adults. Overall children’s bodies heat up five times faster than a person who is full gown, and on top of that, an infant does not develop mature sweat glands to help cool the body until around 6 months of age. "They're just defenseless, they can't help themselves," said Susan West, Safe Kids Tulsa. "They're just victims." West also said;"They're heating up faster, they're dehydrating faster,"


Daimler AG to Test New Electric Car Fleet in US

On: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 12:06PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Electric Smart Car  test 2

Daimler AG – the gargantuan German automaker – is looking to go ‘green’ this year with the announcement of the launch of their newest electric vehicle innovation: Smart USA. The manufacturer of these newer mini electric cars is owned by Daimler, and is being spurred forwards by the company in attempts to capture potential US holdings of the ever-growing and expanding consumer demand for efficient and green electric cars in the US. Similar to the late 90s, when GM released the first electric car in the US, dubbed the EV1 (or Electrical Vehicle One), these newer Smart Cars will only be available for leases to businesses, as the company does not plan on selling them at dealerships right away.

The Wall Street Journal report really offers some perspective on what the German carmaker is hoping to accomplish by leasing these new test fleets in the US. “Smart will lease a fleet of 250 electric cars to businesses, organizations and select people, in Portland, Ore.; San Jose, Calif.; Indianapolis; Orlando, Fla.; and the Washington, D.C.-Boston corridor. A similar effort was started last year in Europe and will spread to Asia next year for a total test fleet of 1,500, Smart said in a statement.”

As to the range and efficiency, as well as the leasing terms, of these newer electric cars by Daimler, the Wall Street Journal report said that, “The car would be leased for four years at $599 a month and would be under warranty during the full period. It would have a projected range of 82 miles and would be limited to 62.5 miles per hour.”

The move by Daimler to start making electric cars in the US is tantamount to growing competition in all sectors with rival automakers, according to the Wall Street Journal report. “Smart also is joining a growing group of auto makers betting on electric vehicles. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. is the most ambitious, with plans to sell as many as 150,000 electric cars in the U.S. in 2013, but Toyota Motor Corp. , General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC all have announced electric cars due out in the next few years.”

The president of Smart USA, Jill Lajdziak, stated in an interview with the newspaper that, “Certainly, for growth of the brand, this is a milestone. The mere perception in the marketplace of Smart is of an environmentally friendly vehicle.”

Government Mandate on Fuel Economy May Increase Auto Prices

On: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 10:44AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Government Mandate on Fuel Economy May Increase Auto Prices test 1-1

Experts have reported that although there will be savings at the gas pump, the cost of automobiles will rise significantly. It is estimated that consumers will pay approximately $434 more for each vehicle they purchase in the year 2012, and by model year 2016 that number will go up to $926.

According to the Transportation Department and the EPA, consumers would actually save over $3000 on fuel expense in the lifetime of their vehicles.

The new mandate will cost the auto industry somewhere around $52 billion, but the government reports that the program will provide $240 billion in savings to consumers, who will realize the savings through lower fuel consumption.

Hyundai Plans to Launch New Products

On: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 9:51AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Hyundai Plans to Launch New Products  test 1-1

Hyundai Motor India, India's second largest automaker, has been known as a budget car of sorts; its lower price tag is definitely a big selling point. But, according to Hyundai, all that is about to change as the company plans to launch a new line of products. According to Chang-Hwan Han, Hyundai Motor senior vice president, America's regional division, "By launching these new models, our brand image in the U.S. will be enhanced. The purchasing pattern will be changed."

Toyota Forced To Recall Lexus HS Hybrid For Fuel System Issues

On: Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 1:59PM | By: John Welch

Toyota Forced To Recall Lexus HS Hybrid For Fuel System Issues test 1-1

It is a pointless car, the HS. A more expensive, tarted-up Prius that is slower than a Prius, and just as miniscule? Not an easy sell I would think. At least the interior is fancy. My opinions aside, the HS really hasn't been all that difficult to sell, and Lexus has done a good job of it in the few months it has been on the market. Whether you appreciate this tiny luxury yacht for what it is—a smaller ES that is as well furnished as a car this size could possibly be—or not, you can't ignore one design detail that matters to everyone, the integrity of the fuel lines. The HS has an issue that involves fuel lines leaking after hard collisions. This fuel could make its way to hot exhaust or engine parts, causing a fire. Not good.

The HS may be a fine auto, may serve its purpose well for its owners, but it just can't have leaking fuel lines. The entire NHTSA post inside . . . this . . . post . . ..