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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.

Convicted Man Goes Free With Claim Regarding Toyota's Unintended Acceleration

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 2:18PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Convicted Man Goes Free With Claim Regarding Toyota's Unintended Acceleration  test 1-1

It seems that Toyota’s high profile unintended acceleration problems have given a Minnesota man a new chance at freedom. In St. Paul, Minnesota, a man convicted of vehicular homicide in 2006 and sentenced to 8 years incarceration, was recently released after claiming that his Toyota Camry was one of the automobiles involved in Toyota’s unintended acceleration recalls.

Koua Fong Lee was involved in a tragic automobile accident four years ago in his 1996 Toyota Camry when it crashed into an Oldsmobile Ciera in a rear end collision, killing the driver and two young children in the Oldsmobile. In his court hearing, Lee insisted that he was stepping on the brakes of the Camry, but the car would not stop or slow down. Lee’s attorney explained to jurors in his closing argument at the trial that Lee must have accidentally stepped on the accelerator, rather than the brake. 

AutoShopperBlog Personas For Mozilla Firefox!

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 12:04PM | By: John Welch

AutoShopperBlog Personas For Mozilla Firefox!  test 1-1

We know you love reading the AutoShopperBlog on a daily basis, not because you have to, because you want to. With that in mind we have developed a way for Mozilla Firefox users to stare at their favorite AutoShopper photography instead of finishing those dreaded TPS Reports. These "Personas" work only with Firefox , are free, and feature as much racing hooliganism as we can fit into a 3000x200 rectangle. A very kewl way to spice up your browser that doesn't involve unicorns or Japanese animation or blinged-out Escalades that are so off center you can see only half of one massive chromed wheel.

We have submitted three Mozilla Personas to Firefox so far, but will be adding more weekly. Click inside the post to adorn your browser with some AutoShopper eye-candy . . .

Play It Again ... And Again ... And Again, Sam!?

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:51AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Play It Again ... And Again ... And Again, Sam!? test 1-1

There is nothing like hearing a great cover song.  It's a new twist on an old favorite, reminiscent of your youth and days gone by when everything seemed to be better for anyone lucky enough to be a part of the time. Whether it's The Atari’s doing a cover of 'Boys of Summer', or Joe Cocker's great rendition of 'With a Little Help from My Friends' by The Beatles, or Lenny Kravitz's cover of the Guess Who hit 'American Woman', the feeling you get makes you instantly tell the youngest person around that will listen exactly where you were the first time you heard or saw the original band play that song. But as good as even the best covers are, no band has ever made it truly big on covers alone. Real success comes from original material, and what makes a band truly memorable.  


The auto industry, however, seems to be stuck in a series of cover albums over the past decade or so. Beginning with the PT Cruiser that harked back to the Woodys of the 30s, there has been a disturbing, and not so subtle, trend among auto designers. Car after car, there has been an incredible number of retro styles that hark back to some other decade. The annoying Volkswagen New Beetle made its return to the streets after many years in the hazy memories of the 70s. Chevy has had little in the way of retro success. The list of sales disappointments includes the SSR that was supposed to recall pickup trucks of the 1940s and 1950s, or the HHR which did not recall the 1949 Suburbans like GM said it was modeled after, but instead simply recalled the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Ford jumped on the bandwagon with the overpriced and under performing Thunderbird, and then had mild success with the Ford GT, even though it couldn't secure the rights to the name GT40. The Jeep Commander, Toyota FJ Cruiser, the list goes on and on.


Next-Generation Ford Electrics and Plug-ins Photo Gallery

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Chris Weiss

Next-Generation Ford Electrics and Plug-ins Photo Gallery test 1-1

In addition to the 2011 Ford Explorer, Ford brought a few current and future green models to Salt Lake City last week, and had a lot to say about the future of its hybrid and electric line. On display were several Escape Hybrids, as well as the plug-in Escape Hybrid and a rather psychedelic Focus Electric. Billed by Ford as "The Most-Fuel Efficient SUV on the Planet," the 2010 Escape Hybrid offers up to 34 mpg and is available now. The other two models may launch next year for the 2012 model year.

The 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid uses a 2.5-liter I-4 engine and an electric motor/generator that combine for 177 horsepower. Battery power is supplied through a nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) pack that is recharged through regenerative braking. The crossover is capable of all-electric driving at speeds of up to 44 mph, helping to deliver an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 34 mpg in the city. Highway economy is actually a little less at 31 mpg. Those specs are for the front-wheel-drive model. The all-wheel-drive variant includes a second electric motor mounted to the rear axle and offers a rating of 30/27 mpg. The Escape Hybrid originally launched in the 2005 model year. The 2010 model bases for $30,585.

Toyota Profit Forecast Goes Up as U.S. Sales Recover

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Profit Forecast Goes Up as U.S. Sales Recover test 1-1

According to a recent Bloomberg News report, “Toyota may post net income of 340 billion yen ($3.98 billion) in the year ending in March, compared with an earlier estimate of 310 billion yen, it said in a statement today. For the fiscal first quarter, the company swung to a 190.47 billion yen ($2.22 billion) profit from a year-earlier loss.”

Toyota sales around the world, including Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia are helping to raise the sales record which supports the company’s economic recovery that resulted from the damaging effects of the massive recall related to problems with unintended acceleration. According to a Toyota spokesperson, sales in Asia “are growing with great momentum.”  Japanese  subsidies are attributed in part for making the Prius the world's best-selling hybrid model, and the top selling car in Japan this year.

As the Japanese automaker has raised the bar for future net profits, so has its number one competitor in the United States, Honda Motor Company, which followed suit to lift its sales forecast as well.

China Develops a 2-Lane Straddling Bus

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:32AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chinese Bus-o-Tron Attempts to Devour Hapless American Pig-Dog test 2

Many metropolitan areas have problems with traffic jams causing delays and increasing the level of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Adding subways can be very expensive and the more buses a metro area has, the worse traffic conditions become.   

The answer, according to innovative Chinese technology, is a 3-D Fast Bus (that looks more like a gigantic double tram than a bus) that is able to transport passengers throughout the city by carrying commuters above the street level, straddling the traffic lanes underneath the bus with an open design like a tunnel allowing cars to literally drive through the bus.

The Chinese company, named Shenzhen Hashi Co., developed the idea for the massive Fast Bus that provides commuters with a ride on a fixed route. The bus is powered by the city’s municipal power grid coupled with solar energy that originates from the roof top of the bus. 

The Fast Bus has a top speed of just a little below 40 mph, so it would be inappropriate for long trips, but was intended for metropolitan transit purposes, targeted at large highly populated cities such as those that are common in China. The Fast Bus system can transport 1,200 passengers and is ideal for inner city commuting.

End Is In Sight: Toyota 80 Percent Finished With Acceleration Recalls

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:27AM | By: Chris Weiss

End Is In Sight: Toyota 80 Percent Finished With Acceleration Recalls test 1-1

In the 2010 automotive landscape, the words "Toyota" and "recall" have taken on a near synonymous relationship that the Japanese automaker undoubtedly can't wait to shed. According to a company executive, Toyota is nearly ready to start fresh. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting warmer and brighter, and Toyota is more than 3/4 of the way toward finishing its unintended acceleration recalls.

Steve St. Angelo, Toyota's chief quality officer in the United States, recently announced that Toyota has repaired 80 percent of the vehicles involved in its 2009-2010 unintended acceleration recalls. By his reckoning, that puts it ahead of the average in terms of the percentage of cars repaired under a given recall. The automaker is focusing its attention on following up with the remaining 20 percent to ensure that all vehicles are safe to drive.

Toyota's acceleration issues began last September when it announced a recall involving 3.8 million U.S. vehicles. This initial recall was for floor mats that Toyota cited as the cause of unintended acceleration. Less than four months later, Toyota announced another major recall affecting 2.3 million U.S. vehicles, also for unintended acceleration. However, floor mats were no longer to blame, and the second recall related to a sticking accelerator pedal. In all, Toyota has recalled over 11 million vehicles worldwide in the past year.

During its recall crisis, Toyota has come under scrutiny from every angle—from U.S. government investigations to media reports to lawsuits and independent analysis. In April, after an extensive investigation, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration fined Toyota $16.4 million—the maximum that it's allowed to issue under law—for its delayed actions in the recalls. The NHTSA's investigation remains ongoing.

The Road Racing Weekend

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 6:05PM | By: John Welch

The Road Racing Weekend test 1-1

Sports cars aplenty this weekend, the American Le Mans Series is sharing the track with the IzodIndyCar Series, and the Rolex Grand Am Series will tackle Watkins Glen on Saturday, before NASCAR rolls in for their annual trip to the Glen. Grand Am won't start qualifying until noon-forty-five tomorrow, while the ALMS handled qualifications today.

There is lots of news involving prototypes and driver swaps and wrecks and general sports car zaniness. Let's dive right in with more Lola news.

Roush/Yates Engines has signed a contract to provide Lola Cars with purpose-built EcoBoost engines for new 2011 Lola chassis. The liter twin-turbo V6 will be built at the Roush Yates factory in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Ford EcoBoost LMP engine is designed to be a low maintenence, high mileage alternative to more exotic power plants from HPD (Honda Performance Development) and others. Lowering costs even further, this engine will be offered as a standard installation unit for Lola's 2011 LMP2-ish contender, the B11/40. If the 2011 engines function well and prove to be popular alternatives for LMP2-spec prototypes, Roush Yates may begin development on a Ford Coyote-based power plant. The Coyote, if you're not familiar, is the instantly legnedary 5.0 mill stuffed into 2011 Mustang GTs.

This isn't the first time a Yates engine has found its way into a Lola chassis. The Kremer Team ran Yates V8s in their Lolas in 2000, taking wins at Spa Francochamps and Kyalami. Both companies are excited about next season, and I am getting excited about all these turbo-equipped prototypes we may see next season.

More roadracingcrack inside the post . ..

Why Did the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake Sell for $5 Million?

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 4:01PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Why Did the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake Sell for $5 Million? test 1-1

The 1966 Cobra “Super Snake” was one of the most inspiring automobiles ever designed. On September 7, 1965 CSX 3015 was shipped to Ford Advanced Vehicles Department, just before Carroll Shelby transformed CSX 3015 into the 'Super Snake' Shelby. Shelby was already a world-famous race driver by 1959, when he won LeMans for Aston Martin.

The 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake was a race car adapted for street use. Cobras combined Ford V-8 engines and lightweight British AC Ace bodies to create some of the most sought-after domestic cars ever made.

The Super Snake has an outrageous 427cubic inch, 800hp twin Paxton supercharged V8 with a super three-speed automatic transmission. Shelby drove the Cobra in a running of the "Turismos Visitadores" in Nevada. In February 1968, Road & Track referred to CSX3015 as ''The Cobra to End All Cobras.''

The one-of-a-kind muscle car started life as one of 23 Cobra competition roadsters and was made legal for the street with the addition of mufflers, bumpers, and other requirements. The roadster's aluminum body was upgraded with flared fenders that extended over gumball tires.

2011 Ford Explorer Up Close and Personal

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 3:57PM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Ford Explorer Up Close and Personal  test 1-1

Ford eschewed the usual auto show release when it unveiled the 2011 Explorer through Facebook back in July. However, that doesn't mean the automaker won't be spending plenty of time traveling the country to show off its latest creation. Demonstrating that the Explorer isn't going to shirk from the real outdoors just because it switched to a car platform and lost its transfer case, Ford had the new Explorer on display at the Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City this week. Outdoor Retailer is the outdoor sports industry's ground zero for new products, and Ford being there shows that the company is more than willing to defend the new SUV's versatility and outdoor worthiness.

The new Explorer's DNA is a careful compromise between performance and capability on one side and efficiency and practicality on the other. Certain voices within the media have been quick to question and criticize Ford's decision to trade in some of the Explorer's capability and power, but Ford remains confident in the move, feeling that its latest release reflects what consumers want: enough off-road and towing capability for the campground dirt road, or other light-duty off-roading, inside a slimmer, more economic ride.