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Monday, February 27, 2012

Boogity Boogity Boogity!

The winter is a tough time for race fans.  Engines sit cold; Tracks lay still and dormant; Speed Channel is showing some nonsense like Pimp My Ride.  While I don't follow NASCAR as much as F1 or MotoGP, the unseasonably warm winter has made me incredibly anxious for race season and I'm quite excited about the Daytona 500 (even more so that it will be run at night under the lights!).  Here are some of the best finishes passes redneck moments in NASCAR!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Uno 'Maso

Okay seriously, when was the last time you saw a laser disc?  References to 80's sci-fi movies galore, the baddest DeTomaso Pantera ever speeds across a stylized Blade Runner city.

In true DeTomaso fashion, failure lights begin to flash when the chase heats up even slightly. Never question Italian American quality (looks over nervously at guidos and Fiat/Chrysler).

Hope everyone had an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lotus Road Cars

Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Ayrton Senna. We're all familiar with the heroic exploits by Lotus in Formula 1 and open-wheel racing.

This time, I present a post dedicated to Lotus' road racing heritage that have spanned for decades. Sit back and enjoy!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spoiler Alert: The New F1 Nose

Last week Jerez played host to the first test of the 2012 F1 season.  Without delving into the details, the normal order of things hasn't been shaken up too much with the exception of Lotus-Renault showing some pace.  You can see the combined times here. Oh yeah, don't pay much attention to Mercedes' time.  It was done while testing their 2011 car.  While there isn't a huge surprise in the times, the front end of the cars look quite different from last year.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A San Francisco Treat (ding ding)

"I never thought 35 mph could be so much fun!"  Those were the words that spilled out of my mouth as I drove with the midday sun above me, a wall of rock to my right, and a perilous drop to the Pacific Ocean on my left.  Like a great white shark prowling a nudist beach, this was sheer excitement mixed with a bit of terror and topped off with acts of self-gratification preservation.  This was California's highway 1.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Middle East Is the New Wild West

I think the title sums it up quite well. Is there's a better way to describe the wealthy and developing cities among its desert? A land of endless opportunity, entertainment, and reckless abandon, these Saudis seriously know how to party.

Enjoy, and I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 10, 2012

One Porsche 935K Dared To Think Different

For those that love Apple, Steve Jobs, and Porsches, this is the perfect storm.
The earliest Apple fans discovered their new religion when they attended the Homebrew Computer Club. They've enjoyed the Apple II, the Lisa, and the Macintosh. They saw the "1984" commercial in 1984. "Corporate Shirts" VS. "Pirates" meant something to them. In disbelief, they witnessed Apple CEO John Sculley (former CEO of Pepsi) ousting the founder Steve Jobs in 1985. Finally, they celebrated when Steve returned a decade later.

Really, it must be annoying for the veteran Macheads to see all these teenagers, hipsters, and yuppies posting Steve Jobs tribute pictures on their Facebook walls, proclaiming themselves Apple loyalists. Where were they before all the iStuff? As lovely Marilyn Monroe once said, "If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." 

But it wasn't that bad. In fact, the early days of Apple were a time of excitement, as they usually are for any start-up. Nowadays, Steve Jobs is idoled as a visionary but it's really a lot simpler than that. Steve Job had three things; his own company and his balls.

For those that loved Apple Computers Inc., Steve Jobs, and Porsches, this was the perfect storm.

The history behind this unique Porsche is pretty short and straightforward. It all began when Steve Jobs' love for German sports cars compounded with Jobs' relationship with the Bob Garretson Enterprise race shop out in Mountain View, California, at the time only 4 miles away from Apple Computer headquarters. One thing led to another and the Apple Computer Porsche 935 K3 was born.

The Apple/Bob Garretson Porsche entered racing in 1980 and competed in storied circuits including Sebring, Le Mans, Watkins Glen, and Road America. In its first race at the 12 hours of Sebring, the Apple Porsche driven by Bob Garretson and Bobby Rahal started 12th on the grid but battled to finish 7th overall. However, the race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans became the first of three DNF's in the seven races it entered. Ending it's short career on a high note, the Porsche 935 earned a 3rd place podium at the Road America 500.

Without further ado, feast your eyes and ears on this--

Looks like Apple has been used to getting chased from behind for a while now:

Some more period racing:

Happy Friday! Have an awesome weekend everyone!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Raw Rindfleisch

Shane's E30 M3 is bold and classic at the same time. It's the racing livery, BBS wheels, aero mirrors, and the epic Gurney flap all rolled into one. Oh, the lens filter helped too.

Honestly, I'm usually not a fan of airbrush, paint jobs, and decals on street cars. However, when a period racing livery is done effectively, holy cow! Look at what you get:

Shan's M3 from Daniel Hovdahl on Vimeo.

Check out more stuff from Daniel Hovdahl.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Flow Ridaz

For those that don't follow F1, the teams are slowly revealing their 2012 entries and as is the case with any new season, there's a huge emphasis on finding an aerodynamic edge.  Additionally, this year the exhaust-blown diffuser, which produced huge amounts of grip for repeat champion Red Bull, is banned.  While there are no videos of the current F1 cars in the wind tunnel, here's a video from sometime between 2005 and 2008 explaining some of the basics of managing the air around an F1 car.

Compare the complex flow of that to how the air stays connected to a street car with a lot of R&D put into its development.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

NHTSA: public enemy #1?

While we may not always think so, the NHTSA is arguably the most powerful entity in the automotive industry. United States has long been the largest market for automobiles (until China recently pulled ahead) and engineers from automakers across the world have to create products that meet whatever safety and fuel economy standard that the NHTSA enforces. These safety and fuel economy standards are established for the sole purpose to protect the millions of Americans sitting behind the wheel.

It's an important responsibility and since the NHTSA was officially established more than four decades ago, the agency's integrity was never put to question. However, two incidents in the past couple of years have made me a bit concerned. Let me explain.

In 2009, Toyota faced a public crisis when the media revealed that owners have reported incidents of unintended acceleration. Although Toyota first installed electronic throttles in 2002, a spike in the number of reported incidents triggered NHTSA to re-open the case and perform one of the most extensive NHTSA investigations since the Ford Explorer/Firestone fiasco. Eventually, with the help of NASA, another well-known technical agency of the United States, the investigators and researchers at NHTSA came up empty and concluded that findings indicated causes for unintended acceleration were nothing more than floor mat obstruction or driver error. The simplest answer is usually the correct one.

Then, not long after the Toyota investigations closed, a new controversy surfaced when a Chevrolet Volt caught fire at NHTSA's testing center on May 12, three weeks after its battery cell was severely compromised from a side impact crash test. In November, the NHTSA launched an investigation that scrutinized the safety of the Volt's lithium-ion batteries. This investigation expanded to ask automakers GM, Nissan, and Ford to all cooperate, and to ensure the integrity and crash-worthiness of the battery-cell of their own electric vehicles. Finally, according to NHTSA's final report, the available data could show no greater risk of fire with a Volt than a traditional gas-powered car.

Case closed and job done, right? Not so fast. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing bluntly titled, "Volt Vehicle Fire: What Did NHTSA Know & When Did They Know It?" In a nutshell, some individuals (read: Republicans), challenged that NHTSA knew of some really bad information in regards to the Chevy Volt and have been trying to keep the battery fire a secret for fear of causing damage to GM, the country's investment in GM, the Obama Administration's relationship with GM, as well as President Obama's odds for re-election. After all, why else would the agency launch the investigation in November when the fire occurred in May? NHTSA defended its intentions and insisted that their investigation was thorough. What's more, data collected by NASA proved to be comparable with the data NHTSA had accumulated. 

Matters with Toyota weren't over either. Like the ghost of Christmas past, Toyota's unintended acceleration incident came back to haunt NHTSA almost a year after the agency has closed its investigation. An independent auto-safety firm, Safety Research and Strategies, had filed a lawsuit in federal court against NHTSA, requesting for the release of internal records related to said investigation with reason to believe that the agency withheld documents and videos that suggest unintended acceleration incidents were caused by electronics systems rather than floor mat or driver error. NHTSA, of course, denies wrongdoing.

Thanks for bearing with me so far but I'm getting to my point: Is the NHTSA corruptible? Is the body already compromised?

Back in 2008, the global economy suffered a shocking collapse when financial institutions across the world suddenly found themselves waist deep in over-leveraged mortgage backed securities. Lehman Brothers realized moments before bankruptcy that if their holdings in MBS were to drop 20%, the loss would be greater than the entire value of the company.

Credit rating agencies, the body responsible for auditing financial banks as well as their financial products and assets to keep things in check, either never saw it coming, took too long to react, or simply turned a blind eye to give the banks freedom. AAA rated securities were actually worth less than a dollar.

Nothing of that extent has happened in the automotive industry and I can't imagine that it ever will. However, what if NHTSA becomes the automotive industry equivalent to Moody's or Standard & Poor's? It makes you wonder...