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F1 – From Track to Street

As the racing series evolves, your car soon could share parts with a Formula One racer.

by on Nov.06, 2014

Formula One teams virtually redesign their cars "every two weeks," creating significant opportunities to develop tech breakthroughs.

While Formula One remains the world’s most popular motorsport series, it’s come in for sharp criticism this year as a result of rules changes that, among other things, have tamed the traditionally ear-shattering screech of an F1 racer’s engine.

Ironically, the changes may have a positive payoff for the automakers who sponsor many of the series’ teams – and the consumers who buy their products. If anything, the result is that it’s becoming more likely that the technology used by the latest Formula One cars will help improve tomorrow’s street vehicles.

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If anything, “For the first time, Formula One is following” what’s happening on public roads, suggested Tommaso Volpe, Global Director of Formula One at Infiniti Motor Co. Ltd., the maker’s F1 operation which several years ago partnered with the championship-winning Red Bull team.

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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.

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Dodge Darts Into Global RallyCross Series with Travis Pastrana

600 hp, 70-ft jumps and 1.9 sec. 0 to 60.

by on Mar.26, 2012

A rendering of the 600-hp Dodge RallyCross Dart.

Dodge is entering the Global RallyCross Series with a custom-built, 600-horsepower version of its new Dart sedan piloted by X Games legend Travis Pastrana.

The project underscores the increasing emphasis on motor sports at Chrysler, which recently unveiled its 2013 NASCAR entry – although the maker now has to sign up a replacement for the Roger Penske team, which is jumping to Ford for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The entry into RallyCross suggests Chrysler and its Dodge and SRT Motorsports arms are aiming for a more global profile, rallying generally far more popular outside the U.S. – even while adding a distinctly American twist.

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“At Dodge, racing is an integral part of our heritage and embodies our competitive spirit, so we’re very excited to announce the next chapter in racing for Dodge with our all-new Dodge Dart,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO of the Dodge Brand. “The new Dart Global RallyCross Championship car with 600 horsepower and driver Travis Pastrana takes our passion for performance to all new heights.”

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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.

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Audi, Chevrolet, BMW and Even Ford Enhance Their Reputations at Le Mans

Despite two crashes, Audi overwhelms field with new R18 turbodiesel.

by on Jun.13, 2011

Though two of its three cars crashed, Audi's #2 R18 turbodiesel went on to win.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the greatest auto race on Earth, tests engineering skill, driving skill, mechanical skill and everyone’s patience.  This year’s race, the 79th running, showed once again what great racing companies like Audi, Chevrolet, Nissan, and BMW can do.

Audi brought three brand new, brutish-looking diesel-powered R18s to race in the top LMP1 class, with new V-6 turbodiesel engines replacing the older, heavier and less efficient V-10 turbodiesels.

Before 15 laps were done, their #3 car had crashed heavily, sending Scottish driver Allan McNish to the infield hospital.  Around 11:45 PM, the #1 car tangled with a Ferrari and lost, taking out a huge section of guardrail and sending German driver Mike Rockenfeller to the hospital, as well.

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It took more than two hours to fix the guardrail while the field of 56 cars idled around in the dark under a yellow flag.  But the remaining #2 car, with drivers Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer, and Andre Lotterer, soldiered on and won the race, a close finish, with five diesel Peugeots trailing it home.  It was Audi’s tenth overall victory at Le Mans, now more than Ferrari.

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Is Formula One for Sale?

After initial denial, owners admit something’s up.

by on May.09, 2011

The face of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone insists the sport isn't for sale - or is it?

After initially denying any interest in selling the vastly profitable Formula One race series, the sports owners now acknowledge there may be some talks underway – though it’s unclear where any negotiations might lead.

Rumors have been circulating that a consortium led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and Exor, the Italian investment arm of Fiat’s Agnelli family, have approached F1 owner CVC Capital Partners with an offer to acquire what is generally considered to be the world’s most powerful and profitable motor sports program.

After initially denying anything was up, CVC’s public face, Bernie Ecclestone, has acknowledged what is now being described as a “friendly” offer.

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In a formal statement, Formula One’s current owners announced, “CVC can confirm that it has recently received an approach from the Exor News Corporation consortium.”  The group added that Rupert Murdoch’s son and senior News Corp.  executive “James Murdoch has informed us that the approach is friendly, at a very preliminary stage, and that they acknowledge that Formula 1 is privately owned by CVC and not currently for sale.”

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Team Lotus Buys Caterham Cars

Both trace roots to Lotus founder Colin Chapman.

by on Apr.27, 2011

Caterham rolls out a special-edition 7 to celebrate its sales to Lotus.

Team Lotus Enterprises has expanded its motorsports base by acquiring Caterham Cars, an investment group led by London-based Corven Ventures. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Both makers trace their heritage back to Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, the British sports car company – with which there are no current ties.

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“Caterham has a unique place at the heart of the motoring world. As well as being proudly and staunchly British, it has an enviable and uniquely unblemished reputation within the industry for performance, handling and engineering excellence,” said Lotus chief Tony Fernandes, who also owns Air Asia.

To celebrate the new deal, Caterham plans to produce a limited run of 50 Team Lotus Seven club racers bearing the team’s green and yellow colors.

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Is Formula One Going Green?

FIA considering new battery car series.

by on Apr.05, 2011

FIA Chief Jean Todt is charged up about racing electric cars, and may launch the first series by 2013.

Hitting 200-plus miles an hour down the straight you’re likely not thinking much about matters like mileage or CO2 emissions.  But up in the Formula One suites, well, that’s another matter entirely.  And after encouraging teams to develop hybrid systems for their F1 racers, the sport’s top brass may be ready to take things to the next level.

The Formula One governing body is planning to launch a series of electric car race series that could eventually generate a battery-powered rival to F1 itself.

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“We want, as soon as possible, to have new categories with new energy,” Jean Todt, president of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, or FIA, told the British newspaper, the Telegraph.

Don’t look to find Michael Schumacher behind the wheel, at least not initially, nor is it clear whether major players like Ferrari or Team Red Bull will be signing on up front.

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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.

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Is the Delta Wing Concept the Future of Racing?

Developers plan to begin track testing in August.

by on Feb.12, 2010

Looking more like a comic book impression of a race car, the DeltaWing Concept could transform motor sports, say sponsors.

It’s got a sort of “Back to the Future” look that would seem comfortable on the pages of a comic book,” but could the DeltaWing race car concept revolutionize real world motor sports?  That’s the question surrounding the steel gray prototype on display at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, an event more commonly known for introducing new sedans and sport-utility vehicles.

Developed by DeltaWing LLC, which is appropriately based in Indianapolis, the 2012 DeltaWing IndyCar Concept is being billed as “the future of open-wheel racing.”  Among other things, the design promises to be more fuel-efficient than conventional race cars, as well as safer.  Using less power and about half the fuel of a traditional IndyCar, the developers claim they have turned consistent 235 mph laps.

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“This radical prototype takes open wheel racing to a new level from both an engineering standpoint and the overall spectator experience,” proclaimed DeltaWing CEO Dan Partel, during the debut of the race car concept, which will be on exhibit during the Chicago Auto Show’s public days at the Bridgestone/Firestone stand – the tire maker partnering in the development project. Among other things, it came up with special Firestone Firehawk tires for the prototype.)

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