Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dario Franchitti's Tire Changer OK

Mid-way through last weekend's Bridgestone Indy Japan 300, Dario Franchitti came in for what was supposed to be a routine pit stop. Locking his tires due to a bump in his pit box, Dario unfortunately barreled into several of his waiting crew members, sending them tumbling along the pit wall. Taking the worst hit was his left-rear tire changer, Steve Price, who momentarily appeared to be trapped under the car. Despite the incident, Franchitti's crew worked around their injured teammates to complete the pit stop and send Dario back out.
RACER Magazine reports that Price suffered no serious injuries and was released from the Dokyu University Hospital later that day. Franchitti drove back from the considerable delay to finish 11th, well back from his top position of 3rd but still ahead of his rookie teammate Marco Andretti.
Dario Franchitti Indy Japan 300 Pit

Eagle One Bucket-Free Car Wash

Eagle One Bucket-Free Car WashEagle One has recently introduced their Bucket-Free Car Wash; Essentially concentrated soap in a spray bottle, Eagle One is following Mr. Clean's lead in eliminating the bucket that is usually necessary for washing your car. However, I have found that a bucket of soapy water is still necessary while using Mr. Clean's AutoDry; The water/soap mix is not adjustable and the car never quite gets soapy enough without help. Eagle One's approach is a good one, as obviously you are in control of how much soap to use. According to Eagle One, "only 1-2 sprays per panel/section are needed," and this is largely accurate as even that seemingly-sparing amount is enough to build up a healthy lather.
Missing from Eagle One's approach is the means to avoid manually drying the car after the wash. The soap lacks the "Dry Rinse Polymers" of Mr. Clean's AutoDry, and letting the car air-dry will produce water spots. Washing the car with the Eagle One soap, then rinsing it with the AutoDry's filtered water seems to be the ideal solution to a quick, effective manual car wash.

Penske to GM? Miller Says Maybe

During this past Sunday's edition of Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel, Robin Miller relayed that one of his "inside sources" had strongly suggested that GM was looking to hire on Roger Penske, yes that Roger Penske, to lead GM out of its troubled mire. What at first seems unlikely may in fact have some basis in reality, as it was Penske who once pulled Hertz out of its own slump. He also successfully runs a massive network of GM dealerships, giving him a solid perspective of the sales and consumer side of the business at a minimum.
GM's continued trouble is bad for everyone except Toyota, but someone like Roger Penske may just be able to bring the fresh strategy and outlook that is needed to turn things around.

Roger Penske

Friday, April 21, 2006

GTO Giveaway

Flowmaster's Kevin McClelland built up a 2004 Pontiac GTO, which was featured on the 2005 Hot Rod Power Tour and in Hot Rod Magazine, and now they're giving it away. Unfortunately stripped of the heavily-modded motor, the GTO nonetheless comes tantalizingly-equipped with a complete headers-to-tailpipes Flowmaster exhaust system, plus new tires and brakes, a new suspension system from Hotchkis, and other modifications. Check out Flowmaster's contest page for rules and entry details.

Flowmaster GTO Giveaway Contest

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Possible Spec-Mustang Series?

Dan Davis, the director of Ford Racing Technology, has teamed with Multimatic to produce a 550hp Mustang racer that he would like to see sold through Ford dealers for around $200,000. Davis created the track-only car with the vision of a spec racing series that would potentially include the Camaro and Challenger, essentially re-creating the Trans Am series. Assembled from production parts, Davis and Multimatic have the capability to produce dozens of copies if the demand is there.
According to AutoWeek, the car lapped the Long Beach street circuit within 10 seconds of the times laid down by the Daytona Prototypes racing there last weekend as part of the Champ Car World Series.
Certainly an exciting development for fans of the Trans Am series of old, or of Ford Mustangs, with any luck Davis' vision will catch on with enough weekend racers to make it a reality.
550hp Mustang Racer by Ford Racing Technology and Multimatic

Saturday, April 15, 2006

18-Wheels, Or 10?

For several years, Michelin has been developing an alternative to the dual-wheels commonly seen on large trucks. Called the X One, these tires are twice as wide as standard truck tires so only two are needed per axle. According to Michelin, this setup saves weight and significantly improves fuel economy, as well as offering better traction and control. Michelin recently doubled their production capacity of this tire, which may soon change common 18-wheelers into 10-wheelers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Acting Like A Supercar

Who isn't a fan of Jason Stratham? As cool as his movies are when he's ripping around some French town in a large, town-car-sized sedan, isn't it about time he gets a performance upgrade? In his latest movie "Rogue" two Spyker cars will be featured: The C8 Spyder (400hp) and the C12 LaTurbie (500hp). Spyker is a pretty unknown vehicle manufacture to most, hailing from the Netherlands. Production ends this month on the movie so expect it to come out some time in the summer.

Monday, April 10, 2006

From C To Shining C

Chrysler's 300 has been a runaway success for the company, earning numerous awards including a spot on Car & Driver's 10Best list for the fourth consecutive time. In an effort to continue their success, Chrysler has introduced two new variants of the 300C: the Heritage Edition and a long-wheelbase version.

Chrysler 300C Heritage BadgeThe Heritage Edition is a currently-available trim package, comprised mainly of aesthetic alterations to the 300C. It includes unique badging, chromed-aluminum wheels, "performance" front seats, a rear decklid spoiler, a "performance" exhaust system, and other touches. Certainly nothing Earth-shattering, although it is reassuring to know that Chrysler has at least some idea of the importance of heritage, and is trying to find ways to let that heritage work for them.

According to Auto Express, Chrysler will unveil a long-wheelbase version of the 300C at the upcoming New York Auto Show. The long-wheelbase version will be six inches longer than the standard version, adding about 10 cubic feet to the cabin. The car will be aimed squarely at Jaguar XJ, Mercedes S-Class, and Audi A8 customers with options such as lighted writing tables for the rear seats, foot rests, and custom paint and pinstriping options. There is no word on pricing yet, although the car is scheduled to launch this fall.
Long Wheelbase 300C ExteriorLong Wheelbase 300C Interior

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Hidden Costs of Oil

This past Saturday at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Milton Copulos presented figures suggesting the actual cost of a gallon of gasoline is much higher than the $2 - $3 we pay at the pump. According to Copulos' study, there are massive "hidden" costs associated with importing foreign oil, including but not limited to military expenditures to keep the Persian Gulf area stable. Copulos, president of the National Defense Council Foundation, estimates these hidden costs added $7.41 per gallon last year, and will rise to $8.35 in 2006.
While Copulos' numbers are estimates, it is certainly interesting to consider these "hidden" costs when comparing the various fuels available to us.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

BMW Criticized For Advertising To Gays

At first glance, this sounds similar to Ford's debacle late last year. However, closer inspection reveals a twist: the criticism aimed at BMW is coming from www.GayWheels.com, a resource for the gay and lesbian community. The website maintains lists of what they call "Gay-Friendly" and "Non-Gay-Friendly" automakers, based on the domestic partner benefits available to their employees. BMW does not offer domestic partner benefits, although a company spokesman said this is an effort to comply with New Jersey laws. The website labels BMW as hypocritical as the automaker targets the "deep pockets" of the gay and lesbian community without supporting their gay and lesbian employees.
Criticism like this serves as a reminder that each automaker must move as a cohesive unit, with the model line, advertising, and corporate staff moving in the same direction at the same time, all reflecting the same image.