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Friday, May 25, 2012

The 80 Minutes of Le Mans

Just wanted to let everyone know that Audi's documentary about last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, Truth in 24 II: Every Second Counts, is downloadable on iTunes.  It can also be viewed via Youtube... which means it's also here on FPH.  What a great way to kick off this race filled weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Back Home Again In Indiana

This weekend is the height of the racing season, starting in Monte Carlo with the Monaco GP, coming back home to Indiana for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing", and finishing in Charlotte with the 600.  While I do like NASCAR the first two represent 2/3rds of racing's triple crown (the other being the 24 hours of LeMans).  The main event for me is the 500.  With all due respect to the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 is the still the most significant race in the USA in my opinion.

This year's race is loaded with story lines, the biggest of which is the new car.  First off it's slower, second there is noticeable gaps between engine manufactures.  Its Chevy > Honda >>>>>>>>>>>>> Lotus.  Lotus is way off pace to the tune of 16 MPH off of the pole speeds (yet IndyCar decided not to let them use extra boost).  Its a borderline safety hazard, they will be moving chicanes.  If they don't maintain 105% pace they will be removed though.

There are also new names in the fray, the biggest star thus far in the month of May has been James Hinchcliffe who takes over Danica Patrick's (and what was to be Dan Wheldon's) ride in the Andretti Go Daddy Chevy.  He is quite the character, he is the mayor of his own imaginary internet town Hinchtown.  He missed the pole by a whopping .003 mph average. You've also got Josef Newgarden driving for Sarah Fisher's team who was the best Honda in the field in 7th as a rookie.  He was the Indy Lights champion last season and won at Indy in that series.  Sarah Fisher is also entering Bryan Clauson, a rookie Indiana boy who took the traditional USAC ladder to Indy.  He had a very promising qualifying effort going on pole day before he took a hard hit on lap 4.  Being that there were only 33 cars, all he had to do was get in 4 clean laps on bump day which he did.  He will start 31st, ahead of the two Lotus snails.

Here are some recent clips to get you in the mood for The Greatest Spectacle in Racing...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Classic Car Club: SoHo

While not everyone can agree with Jay Leno's sense of humor, even the most bitter critics of Jay Leno's chin have a hard time denying the awesomeness of his car collection.

Given the opportunity, wouldn't you like a collection like that of your own? But let's be realistic, not all of us can make a fortune hosting the longest running TV show on NBC. What's more, as a New Yorker, there wouldn't be anywhere for me to put my collection even if I had one. Never mind the maintenance and insurance, I can't imagine what a hassle it would be if I had to move my fleet of supercars twice a week because of alternate side parking.

In a city of 17 million people, I can't be the only car guy around that's craving for the chance to get behind the wheel of my dream cars. Wouldn't it be great if I could drive a classic Jaguar E-type, enjoy it for that rare sunny Saturday afternoon, and let someone else worry about everything else? That's where the Manhattan Classic Car Club comes in. In order to find out what CCC is all about, my friend Jeffrey Butler of Motoriginal and I decided to meet up Wednesday afternoon to visit its SoHo establishment in person.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Icons: Sir Frank Williams

Frank Williams (left); Williams FW10 (center); Patrick Head (right)

Shaping up to be one of the strangest seasons in modern Formula 1, every race in the 2012 season so far has handed a victory to a different driver and a different team. In fact, the inconsistent performance and results from one venue to the next have been so mind boggling, interviews with even the most experienced of drivers and engineers from top tier teams could only provide us with a tepid, "I don't know," "we will see," "It's difficult to say," or "Hopefully we can gain performance from our upcoming upgrades."

Given the nature of the season so far, I prophesied that a victory for Williams wouldn't be out of the question. All it takes is a little havoc -- a wet race, a safety car, anything unforeseen. But when young Pastor Maldonado finally provided Williams its first Grand Prix victory since Brazil in 2004, what was most surprising of all was to see the team bring it all together so soon and with such authority -- leading from pole. Adding some romance to Williams' achievement, the victory was also regarded as a belated birthday present for Sir Frank Williams as he celebrated his 70th birthday not too long ago. Sadly, a bizarre garage fire would disrupt WilliamsF1's moment of glory only 90 minutes after Maldonado clinched the race win.

Pastor Maldonado earns first WilliamsF1 victory since 2004

In total, Williams F1 competed in a total of 577 Grands Prix, taken 7 Driver's Championships, 9 Constructor's, 114 race wins, and started the race from pole 127 times. Not bad, considering Eddie Jordan called Williams a minnow team.

While Eddie Jordan's remark might seem like a dig at Williams, it isn't completely untrue. In fact, Williams' reputation as an underdog is one of the traits that made the team so appealing.

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Cars, More Coffee

This past Saturday two big names from the Boston area hosted separate Cars and Coffee events.  The Herb Chambers Porsche/Audi dealership and the Larz Anderson Auto Museum put on quite a show, showing off more exotic hardware than a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon's office.  Here are some of the sights from both.  Enjoy!

Warning: large photos ahead

Friday, May 11, 2012

Carroll Shelby - Origin of the Legend

We can't give Carroll Shelby enough thanks. No matter how many years pass, car enthusiasts will forever praise his life's work.

RIP Carroll Shelby

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Days Go By" (NSFW)

While searching for some sweet, feels-like-I-just-did-crack-and-got-punched-in-the-face videos on vimeo, I came across this little gem.

That video got me thinking of this commercial.

It inevitably led to this skit.

Hope this gets you through the week!  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cars and Coffee: Dallas

I finally got the chance to attend the much lauded Cars and Coffee this weekend, held at Classic BMW in Plano, TX. It was my first time to this event and what a show it was! Every genre of car you could think of was well represented. Here's a collection of some of my favorites, enjoy!

In The Wild: Porsche 911T

Destination-less walks are full of surprises. While strolling along West Side, I came across this electric orange Porsche 911T.

Just try to take a step back and follow the line of light bouncing off its surface. I sure did.

Friday, May 4, 2012

You Can't Handle the Truth (in 24 II: Every Second Counts)

Any enthusiast worth his nomex driving gloves knows that Audi is a powerhouse in the world of endurance racing.  With ten overall Le Mans victories since the race in 2000, no manufacturer has ever achieved the same levels of success that the boys from Ingolstadt have in such a short amount of time.  So, what happens when your trophy cabinet is overflowing with French hardware?  Relive the glory by making a documentary, of course!

Fresh from a screening held at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Ma, I can share my thoughts on the second documentary that...errrr... documents the Audi way of life at Le Mans.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Imola - May 1, 1994

May 1st marks the anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death and tonight, I decided to remember him in a bit of an unusual way - by putting on the Senna biopic and inviting my parents to join me. In an effort to convey the story the best I could, I paused the movie every now and again to reiterate the importance of select moments that made Senna a legend. In total, the duration of Senna is about 2 hours and 40 minutes. It probably took us three-and-a-half.

Unlike racing fans that remember Senna best from his shear talent behind the wheel, my parents were more captivated of Senna's moments before the start of his last race. There was a dark cloud that hung over Formula 1 and a general, unspoken uneasiness that had overwhelmed everyone at Imola.

Ratzenberger's death that weekend was the first fatal accident to occur since 1982. It was also the first time in a whole generation that the paddock had experienced a casualty from the sport. Pre-race footage on that fateful day captured a lot of moments where mechanics sat in silence, staring expressionless at the floor, reflecting. In contrast, there was a keen expression on Ayrton Senna's face, while occasionally passing forced grins to his team in a feeble attempt to hide his anxiety. He sat in silence, waiting, as if he knew something would happen to him too.

Nothing's changed. My parents still haven't the slightest interest in motor racing and likely never will. However, they, too, have become admirers of Ayrton Senna.

I couldn't resist; here's the on-board footage of Senna flying through a lap of Monaco:

Interview with Gerhard Berger following Roland Ratzinberger's death:

A furled Austrian flag was found in the Williams when the medical staff extracted Senna from the broken racing car. Senna would have raised it in honour of Ratzenberger after the race.