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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Driving Music

Geezus, I've finally taken my last final last night. I didn't get out of the testing room until 11pm!

This is going to be an awfully short post as I'm heading out in literally 5 minutes to go on a road trip with my parents for the weekend.

But all this made me think about something. What music do you guys like to take with you on the road? Are there songs that are just that much better to listen to when you're driving along?

I'll start things off. Here is a song I brought with me on my last trip,

Share with us what driving songs you like!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Speed is Frustrating

Give me a minute here to vent. Today being Sunday, it's the one day of the week where I can count on an immense amount of motorsport action to be happening around the world. With that being said, I watched only one race today. It was the Motogp race from Le Mans, France.

Now, Motogp is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. And with most large racing events, there are support races. In the case of Motogp, there are the 125cc two-stroke class and the newly formed Moto2 class, which replaced the 250cc two-stroke class. I've definitely seen my fair share of racing. So, I feel I can make a judgment on what is and isn't entertaining, at least from a viewer's perspective. Without a doubt, Moto2 is the best racing to watch right now.

Here's some quick facts to sway you to give this series an hour of your viewing time. The grid is filled with about 40 riders whose bikes are all being powered by a spec motor, a Honda 600cc 4 cylinder with roughly 150hp. The chassis design differs by team and whether they made it in house or had it made. The bikes themselves weigh in just a tick under 300 pounds. This past race had the top 28 qualifiers covered by 1 second!

However, all that data was found online because Speedtv decided it would rather show the Nascar hall of fame induction on repeat today. I don't want to look up who won the race because I still want to be excited during the race, which will be shown at 1 pm Tuesday or 3am Wednesday. Thank you DVR!

This scheduling has me totally confused. It seems to me that Speedtv is really trying to show Motogp as it was meant to be seen...LIVE. Last year, most races were broadcast at 5pm. The two European races have been shown live at 8am EST this season. This tells me that there are fans in America that have demanded this live coverage just like Formula 1 gets. Oddly, the broadcast format has changed to focus on the American riders with interviews and such before the race. Since time was allotted for those interviews, there is no time at the end of the broadcast for the interview session with the podium finishers. It would seem that Speedtv doesn't know its viewers. If there was enough interest to show live races, then these viewers are educated about the sport. They'd rather know about the race from the top finishers, the riders who obviously can push the machine to the absolute limit and hold it there for twenty-something laps. They don't want to hear for the third time about Nicky Hayden being the only rider to tame the Ducati besides Casey Stoner. We can read that on racing websites if we're so interested. If I really wanted to hear a guy with a redneck twang, I'd just watch Nascar on...Speedtv.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Save your (inner car guy's) soul

It seems to me that America as a nation as well as a people has lost its soul when it comes to the automobile. When thinking about American cars, most people point out the overall lack of reliability, refinement, innovation, or passion. Once in a great while, somebody will stop and consider the sports car offerings of America and summarize it all with the word "power."

Frankly, that makes sense. Looking at the current crop of popular American performance (I hesitate to say "sports car") cars, power does adequately encapsulate them all. There's the Camaro, Mustang, Corvette, and Viper just to name a few. All these cars have enough torque to spin the world like Superman and enough horsepower to be considered supercars just 10 years ago. As an addendum, they would all leave a considerable bulge in your wallet compared to their foreign counterparts.

So, what's the problem? Part of the problem is that "power" meant a whole lot more in a passed time. Power could be used to describe everything from the manufacturing prowess of this nation to its ability to design and engineer the best in the world. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not some southern Republican who favors American products over everything else in the world regardless of quality. I just want to know where the American auto industry, or more importantly, the American consumer took a turn toward mediocrity.

As you would imagine, I am the person that family and friends gravitate toward when they want car buying advice. I love that aspect of being a car guy. If you're that guy, it shows that these people put some sort of faith in you. They trust you. You're not a car salesman trying to collect a commission. When this kind of thing happens, I feel it's my duty to find something that will truly make the person happy. However, I don't know how many times I've scoured the internet, magazines, and Sunday newspapers to find something worthwhile when the person comes back to me and says, "What do you think of a Camry or Accord?" Honestly, I would rather have that flaming Ford Pinto pin me against a fireworks factory. Atleast, that will get my heart beating faster! Please, I implore you, don't do this to that car guy you know. It's the most demeaning thing you can do.

However, about 80% of the people you know probably do something like this. Take some time during a nice sunny day to just sit by a busy street. Take your lunch outside or go buy a carton of "Ben and Jerry's". It doesn't matter what your excuse is. I already know your reason for being outside. Look at the cars that go by. It's a sea filled with boring shapes and boring colors. An ocean of Camrys, Accords, Altimas, etc. I bet the majority of them have the base motors too.

Now, let's consider the facts. We live in a time of unparalleled engineering (yes, even Toyota). New cars are asking for oil changes after huge time intervals now. It's not uncommon to see cars go 10000-15000 miles without an oil change. These cars are lasting longer than ever, even with those sparse oil changes. Never mind the added benefits of computer aided analysis to make cars stronger, stiffer, and safer for the occupants. Add in the fact that fuel efficiency is at an all time high. Most importantly, fuel is cheap. After considering inflation, three dollars per gallon is still less than what our parents were paying during the fuel crisis of the 70s.

Next time you're considering buying a new car talk to that car guy you know for his opinion. Remember to keep an open mind. Chances are he can think of something that will be perfect for you. Performance, luxury, safety, and efficiency can all be had as long as you know the right people to ask.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Douchey Cockboy

Why does one get such a bad rep for driving a bimmer convertible? And shouldn't wearing a bluetooth hands free device and a pair of polarized Oakley sunglasses be setting an example for what's considered practical and being safe?

Ah, profiling. Many of us are guilty of this. Certainly Danny Chin and I are. A person who owns a Hummer is probably trying to overcompensate for something. A Prius driver is either someone that A.) always has to have the newest "it" thing B.) is really into tech C.) likes to brag that they're being green or D.) number crunchers. The bottom line is that they all look smug while doing it. Porsche 911 drivers are wealthy accountants who need a sports car that can hold two golf bags. Owning a Civic Si with Altezza taillights automatically makes you ricer.

See how easy it is? Anyone can do this and this can be a problem. As car enthusiasts, we don’t want to be mistaken for anything else. It would be nice if people can look at our car and say, “Oh, this definitely belongs to a car guy.” But is there really a car out there that can really nail that statement?

Yes, and no. Or yes in a way that isn’t exactly what you were expecting.

The answer, at least my answer, is the kit car. Caterhams, Ariels, vintage Shelby Daytona replicas and the sort are the kind of cars that provide for only a very particular lifestyle. The more extensive the available options are for modification, the more driver-centric the vehicle becomes. These purchases are done out of pure selfishness and disregard to those who love you. Caterhams, for better or worse, are just too obscure of a brand for anyone to understand what the car is and the history it stands for. How many stories have we heard of wives leaving their husbands because she can’t live with a man that loves his car more than his woman?

It’s a double edged sword that many of us would gladly live with.