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Posts Tagged ‘car racing’

Formula E to Launch World’s First Roborace

Self-driving race series set to get underway next year.

by on Nov.30, 2015

Roborace will be an hour-long event before each of the Formula E battery car races.

Think motorsports and you’re as likely as not to immediately think of some of the great names associated with racing: Schumacher, Hill, Fangio, Andretti, Petty and Earnhardt. So, what happens when you take the driver out of the car?

You come up with the new Roborace, a series of hour-long track events set to launch next year as a prelude to the Formula E series. About to enter its third season, Formula E is itself a groundbreaking concept, the first major series to rely on battery-electric race cars.

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“We passionately believe that, in the future, all of the world’s vehicles will be assisted by AI and powered by electricity, explains Denis Sverdlov, Founder of Kinetik and Roborace.  The new series will serve as a “celebration of revolutionary technology and innovation that humanity has achieved in that area so far. It’s a global platform to show that robotic technologies and AI can co-exist with us in real life.”


From Track to Street, How Motorsports Improves What We Drive

“Improving the breed.”

by on May.31, 2013

GM President Mark Reuss with the Corvette pace car he'll be riding in during the IndyCar race on Detroit's Belle Isle.

When the field of IndyCars lines up on the grid at Detroit’s Belle Isle race track this Sunday, you can be guaranteed that General Motors will lead the pack. That’s because Mark Reuss, GM’s President of North America, will be riding in the pace car, a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

There’s no way to know who’ll ultimately take the checkered flag but Reuss and GM clearly hope for a repeat of last week’s Indy 500, the maker’s Chevrolet division powering to a 1-2-3 victory, the first time Chevy has won the celebrated race in 11 years.

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That victory has a number of benefits, according to Reuss. “We’re a company that lost what it feels like to win,” he says, recalling with a grimace the bankruptcy that nearly shut GM down just four years ago. But wins like Indy are “giving us a feel of what it’s like to win again as a company.”

There are other payoffs, the executive says.


Penske Jumps from Dodge to Ford

Dodge frantically searching for new partner.

by on Mar.02, 2012

A force to be reckoned with, Roger Penske will jump from Dodge to Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

Only days after the 2012 racing season got underway legendary team owner Roger Penske delivered what could be the big bombshell for 2013 – announcing he will end his long-time affiliation with Dodge next year and put his team colors on a NASCAR entry from Ford.

The move leaves Dodge, the performance brand at the Chrysler Group, frantically searching for a winning team to replace its long-time ally.

“We will be evaluating our options,” said Dodge spokesman Dan Reid.

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The announcement by Penske came less than two weeks before Dodge was set to unveil its 2013 entry into the NASCAR circuit, a new version of its Charger muscle car.  But Penske’s team – which had run with Dodge for the last 10 years – will instead be racing the new Ford Fusion.


The Montery Motorsports Reunion: Disneyland for Race Fans

Watching racing history come back to life.

by on Aug.22, 2011

A trio of classic race cars come back to life at Laguna Seca during the 2011 Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

It’s hard to escape your past – or so Derek Bell discovered as he wandered through the paddock at the Laguna Seca race track.  Everywhere he turned he discovered another car that he had driven, at one point or another, during his long and illustrious career.  That includes a Ferrari 250 GTO that is getting ready for a race on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m always surprised,” the British legend said, “by how many cars they have here and how many cars I drove,” including the classic ’64 Ferrari 250 GTO he piloted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed five years back.

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Bell isn’t alone.  Indeed, it seems there are surprises for everyone at the annual Monterey Motorsports Reunion.  The three-day event gave the estimated  40,000 fans a chance to see some of the world’s rarest, oddest and most successful race cars – some nearly 100 years old – come back to life on one of the country’s most challenging tracks.

And unlike the typical race event, the Reunion broke down the traditional barriers, letting race fans get up close and personal with the cars and the drivers.  That includes not only weekend racers like Tom Price, a San Francisco collector with a warehouse full of old cars, but some of the best-known names from the motorsports world, including Bell, Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti, Carroll Shelby and British racing giant Stirling Moss.


McBlog: Racing, The Great Authenticator

When will we know the Koreans have "arrived"?

by on Apr.13, 2011

The track is where a maker -- as much as a driver -- proves its worth. Photo: Denise McCluggage.

Sam Mitani made a point in his May Road & Track column that resonated through me like a temple gong. I’ll get to that but first you’ll welcome some background. Trust me.

In the first running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911 Ray Haroun strapped a mirror in his race car instead of toting the usual swivel-necked riding-mechanic to keep him informed on conditions to the rear. That rear-view mirror found its way into road cars and was about the only thing we could cite as argument that “racing improves the breed”. This was in those mid-century days when our carmakers turned vehemently anti-racing, pulling official participation from NASCAR and forbidding any performance numbers like horsepower to appear in ads. Only comfy-ness and, ooh, rich textures on seats and smiley smiley children with tightly-coifed mothers.

The manufacturers those days were quaking in their white-walls lest a suddenly safety–obsessed government would start decreeing all sorts of standards. Government standards were hive-producing in carmakers. (But then Ralph Nader and Joan Claybrook – even before Nader’s ego swelled to its most egregious proportions – might have caused at least minor allergic reactions to anyone fond of wheeled objects.)

Not that improvement of the breed wasn’t something to be wished at that time, particularly by those few of us who had embraced driving as a sport. We were the ones who plastered numbers cut from sticky shelf paper on the sides on our perky little mounts from England, pulled on our knit-back gloves and on weekends cheerfully sped amidst hay bales stacked meanfully on old airports. In post-war years American cars had grown ever more yacht-like, lumbered about on bedspring suspensions and favored interiors upholstered with mouse fur. “Detroit iron” was our disdainful name for these monsters.

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We favored jolting about in much smaller cars, cars that you donned rather than were swallowed by.  Ah yes, many had asthmatic heaters, or none, and sidecurtains that were downright hospitable to rain. But these cars actually stopped within memory of the first application of the brake pedal. They turned corners within then breathtaking inches of where a quick-response steering wheel – the size of a large pizza — bade the skinny tall tires to go. The home-grown puffed-cheek beasts wallowed in the general direction of a chosen course, the steering wheel having required several full turns to influence that choice. The less connection with a road’s surface the more these cars represented Detroit’s intention. The anti-car carmaker ruled.

When did all this change? I would say when Detroit lightened up on trying to anticipate what Washington might want of them and began noticing customers in important numbers were being enticed off the farm by foreign cars. And vaguely wondered why.


Your Own Lotus Formula One Car?

British maker will put you in one for $1 million.

by on Aug.17, 2010

For a cool $1 million you can own your own Lotus Formula One car.

Let’s be absolutely honest, how many of us haven’t fantasized what it would be like to trade in our mundane sedan or SUV for a slick little Formula One race car, skip the morning commute in favor of a couple hundred lightning-fast laps on the track?

Now, says, Lotus, you can do that…all you have to do is come up with a cool million dollars cash for the British firm’s new Lotus 125.

Think of it as “the ultimate Formula One fantasy car,” suggests Chris Arnold, the commercial director for Lotus Motor Sports.

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The Lotus 125 really is about as close as a “civilian” might get to lining up on the grid alongside a Michael Schumacher, says Arnold, “while still being customer friendly.  A Formula One car can require a team of as many as 80 people to keep it running,” he notes, but Lotus is aiming for something you could pretty much handle on your own.


Ford Brings Back the Boss

A “ready-to-race, turnkey race car”

by on Dec.28, 2009

All you need is $79,000 and you can take the Ford Mustang Boss 302R racing.

Have a hankering to turn some high-speed laps?  All you need is $79,000 and you can sign up for what Ford officials are calling their “ready-to-race turnkey race car.”

It also goes by the name of the Boss.  The Mustang Boss 302R, to be more precise.  Four decades after the original Boss Mustang, with Parnelli Jones behind the wheel, burned its way into the record books, Ford is bringing the name back, this coming year, at Daytona.  But the automaker will also offer a production version, a factory-built race car ready for track days and road racing in a number of Grand-Am, SCCA and NASA classes.


The 302R will share the same basic 5.0-liter V8 block and engine architecture that will  be used in the upcoming, 2011 Ford Mustang GT, though with obvious performance modifications.  The 32-valve powerplant will be mated to a six-speed manual transmission, and the street version of the GT will get a roll cage, race seats, safety harness, data acquisition and race dampers/springs, 14-inch Brembo brakes and a track-specific tire package.

“This is a car you can walk into any Ford dealer and order,” says Jamie Allison, a racing legend of his own and the new director of motorsports for Ford.

Ford’s Boss 302R will make its formal debut at the Detroit Auto Show, in January.

(For a look at the 5.0-liter, 412-horsepower 2011 Ford Mustang GT, Click Here.)

CTSv Wins Challenge – But Of Course

Lutz comes in seventh.

by on Oct.29, 2009

The 2010 Cadillac CTSv posted six of the seven fastest laps during a take-on-all-comers race at Monticello Motor Club.

The 2010 Cadillac CTSv posted six of the seven fastest laps during a take-on-all-comers race at Monticello Motor Club.

No, we’re not saying the fix was in, but we somehow never really doubted the likely overcome of Bob Lutz’s “Winner Take All” challenge.

The septuagenarian executive had, last month, issued a challenge to all comers that no production sedan could beat the Cadillac CTSv on the track.  And though the various competitors opted to ignore the opportunity, a number of foreign models still found their way to Monticello Motor Club, in mid-New York State, for today’s time trials.

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With the legendary John Heinricy, winning racer and long-time General Motors test driver behind the wheel, the Caddy super sedan handily posted the best lap time, 2:46.560, and overall, the various folks who manned the CTSv delivered six of the seven best laps.


Can Senior Bigone Win the Big One?

Lutz Out to prove Cadillac can ride with the best.

by on Oct.28, 2009

Senior Bigone, who occasionally goes by the name Bob Lutz, will be out to defend Cadillac's honor at the Monticello Motor Club, tomorrow.  What's unclear is whether he will strafe the competition after the race.

Senior Bigone, who occasionally goes by the name Bob Lutz, will be out to defend Cadillac's honor at the Monticello Motor Club, tomorrow. What's unclear is whether he'll strafe the competition after the race.

Senior Bigone rides again…and this just might be the most important race of his life.

Few automotive executives have done a better job of playing a Hollywood leading man than General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz.  He’s been a Marine fighter pilot and a lifelong diehard motor sports fanatic.  But not someone who sits in the stands cheering on his favorite team.

So, some years back, when a former employer advised Lutz he could no longer race himself, he simply invented a new persona.  When the track announcer asked what to call him, Lutz scribbled down, “Senior Big One,” a reference to his towering height and ramrod posture.  Lost in translation, Senior Bigone, pronounced Bih-GO-nay, was born, though some folks added a “d” near the end.

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Well, Senior Bigone is back, and he’ll be taking laps at New York’s Monticello Motor Club, tomorrow.


Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Racing, Research and Recognition: the Indy 500 Goes for the Light Touch

by on May.22, 2009

When the most famous words in motorsports, “Gentlemen and Lady … START YOUR ENGINES” are proclaimed, Middle America’s iconic race, the Indianapolis 500 gets underway with classic touches -- and others decidedly out of the ordinary, this year.

When the most famous (modified) words in motorsports, long since made politically correct, “Gentlemen and Lady … START YOUR ENGINES” are proclaimed, Middle America’s iconic race, the Indianapolis 500 gets underway.

When the most famous words in motorsports, “Gentlemen and Lady … START YOUR ENGINES” are proclaimed, Middle America’s iconic race, the Indianapolis 500 gets underway with some classic touches.

Jim Nabors will sing Back Home Again In Indiana, military jets will scream by overhead trailing red, white and blue colors and the mid-field will continue its weekend of excess.

But a new element has been added, bringing Indy Racing to more homes than ever before, maybe … just maybe more than the TV coverage.  Thomas Kinkade, the master artist of paintings bathed in luminous, incandescent, radiant light, has painted a special Indy 500 image that is certain to adorn the living rooms of millions of his adoring fans. (more…)