By on September 3, 2011

While Jack is ranting about blackballing PR flacks and journos with pants on fire, let me warn against journalism by Twitter. Here is a prime example: Today, the interwebs are abuzz about a Lexus LFA setting a new Nordschleifen record. The source: A tweet by Chris Harris of EVO. He wrote: “LFA Nurburgring pack just did 7.14 lap of the Ring. That’s mighty fast.” And he followed it by a “Akira Iida was the man who did the LFA’s 7.14. Great time.”  That may be the case. What is shameful is what was made of this tweet.

From Torque News (“Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition shatters production car ‘Ring record”) through GMInsideNews (“Lexus LFA Nürburgring Package Smashes Nordschliefe Production Record with 7:14 Lap”) to Jalopnik (“LFA Nürburgring Edition sets a ring record”), the blogs are blabbering that Lexus sent the standing Nordschleifen-time to the Green Hell. And nobody bothered to check. Which is what anyone should do who calls himself a journalist.

I called Keisuke Kirimoto, Toyota’s genial spokesman in Tokyo this morning. He had not heard about the stunt yet. But he had his lap times in his head: “7:14? Doesn’t the record stand at 6 and change?” He’s right: A look at Wikipedia shows that the Nordschleifen-record for production cars stands at  6 minutes and 48, and it stood there since Michael Vergers drove his street-legal Radical SR8M around the Nordschleife in 6 minutes and 48 seconds in 2009. Wikipedia even lists Akira Iida’s new 7:14 – in number 4.  Well, if the journos are that lazy, no wonder they get treated in a way that upsets Baruth the Brute.

Jack: They deserve it.

Some of them corrected the copy in the meantime. Jalopnik added: “Akira Iida posted a 7:14 lap time of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition – good enough for either the fourth or fifth all-time fastest lap.” But they didn’t change the headline, and that’s what most Jalopnik readers usually manage to read. Or that’s what Jalopnik hopes they click on.

Kirimoto promised to come back with an official confirmation by tomorrow. Good for him, he doesn’t want to rely on Twitter. Even after his boss, Akiro Toyoda, twittered via the Team Gazoo account: “レクサス LFA、ニュルで7分14秒台を記録か” which according to Frau Schmitto-san stands for “Lexus LFA, 7 minutes, 14 seconds recorded on the Nürburgring.”

Team Gazoo warns on its website that the timing is not official yet, but if it is, then it would beat the times of the Nissan GT-R  (7 min 24 sec), of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (7 minutes 19 sec) and that of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS (7 minutes 18 seconds), “which would be a great honor.”

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32 Comments on “Great Nordschleifen Time In A LFA. A Bad Day For The Blogs...”


  • avatar
    SKUSA_boy

    I will never understand why anybody (except the auto manufacturers) care who has the fastest street car around a certain track.

    Especially when the price of supercars rise above the cost of actual racecars that will obliterate the laptimes of any street car.

    People will say, “well you can’t drive a racecar on the street.” Well, so what?

    If you can afford a supercar then you have more than enough money to tow a racecar to the track. Besides there is nowhere other than the track you will be drive a supercar anywhere close to that fast.

    However on the track there are plenty of racecars that will destroy any supercar and cost much less. So tell me again what is the point of supercar ownership.

    • 0 avatar

      Because the ring time is an important defining metric.

      That is a dumb question.

      • 0 avatar
        SKUSA_boy

        Really? Why does it matter if one $500,000 supercar goes around the ring faster than another?

        You could buy a used Champcar chassis for less than $100,000 dollars, rent an engine for a day, and smash the time of everything slower than a modern f1 car.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      It’s bragging-rights. Before lapping the ‘Ring became a big thing the big-time sportscar manufacturers would push for the highest top-speed to be able to say, “Ha-ha, our car is better than their car!” Since the Bugatti Veyron it’s become clear we’re reaching the limits of what is possible in straight-line speed, it just doesn’t pay as much to pour millions more dollars just to get a couple MPH difference, so now the ‘Ring is king for earning the right to crow at the country-club about what’s in your garage.

      That’s all it is, that’s all it ever was, why so serious?

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      You’re not wrong, but think of the implications of what you’re saying. A Ferrari F430 – or even a Porsche 911 – is far, far more car than anyone needs for even weekend back-roads or autobahn driving. The only reason you buy something more than that (Enzo, LFA, etc.) is so that yours is faster than the next guy’s. And this seems like as good a way of measuring as any other.

      Let’s be honest: if all anyone cared about was a car that handled well enough to be fun, the Sultan of Brunei would be driving an M3. I drive an Acura, so it’s not like I’m saying anyone should go out and buy an Enzo, but if you’re choosing between an Enzo and an LFA, this is probably how to do it.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not just bragging rights. Where else can you drive a road car on a public road at 10/10ths? As Cole points out, it’s a metric. While weather and wind will always be a factor it’s some kind of standard benchmark. Are bragging rights involved? Sure, but it’s the closest thing you can get to a “standard reference high performance road” that has the amenities and logistical support of a real race track. Yes there are road courses at the proving grounds of every car company that has a test track, but none of them have the length and number of differing corners that the ‘Ring has.

      You could say the same thing about Bonneville that you said about the Nurburgring. What’s the point about Bonneville? You can set up a measured mile in a number of places.

      Besides, the ‘Ring is a legendary track, site of some great races, where some of the greatest drivers ever competed. Driving the Nurburgring is something akin to taking batting practice at Yankee Stadium (and I hate the Yankees).

      • 0 avatar
        SKUSA_boy

        Yeah obviously it is a metric. However, i still say… So what? Other than the manufacturers, who cares who has the fastest street car around the ring or any other track?

        It is one thing to compare cars that might actually see track time, like the time of an Evo versus an M3 or something.

        However, the people that can afford supercars would be far better off using their considerable fortunes to go racing instead. They would be going much faster.

        The guy would an Evo or an M3 probably can’t afford his own formula car effort. The guy with an LFA or an Enzo obviously can.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      You just don’t GET IT SKUSA_BOY. NO, No those people who can afford a supercar would NOT be better served using their money to do proper racing in proper race cars. Proper race cars don’t have air-con, don’t have an infotainment system, don’t have comfortable seats and suspension-settings for the long drive from Paris to the Riviera.

      You’re approaching this from the wrong angle, just hard stats and raw numbers. The entire point of a Supercar is it’s an uber-expensive Toy, and if you can afford one you want what many will perceive is the best toy around even if you yourself will never get the most out of all that performance. A great Nurburgring time is one metric by which one can judge ‘the best’ of Supercars. Most of the people who buy cars based on ‘Ring times don’t know or care what those numbers actually imply about the performance and capabilities of the car and how they are under-utilizing them, they care about, “Mine has a faster time around the Nurburgring than the other guy’s, mine’s bestest.”

      And I don’t see anything at all wrong with that.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I will never understand why anybody (except the auto manufacturers) care who has the fastest street car around a certain track.

      You don’t understand why prospective owners might be interested in performance numbers for a sports car they may buy? How fast should a car be before you stop caring about its relative performance?

      So tell me again what is the point of supercar ownership.

      The same as the point of owning any street car faster than a 4-cylinder Camry, except that these people have the money to set the bar a little higher than a Mustang or 350Z owner.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Yeah, count me with the crowd that “doesn’t care” about track times. If I could afford to race I would and I’d do it in a real racecar.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    Skusaboy,

    You don’t have to rent an engine – you can buy a Cosworth XD for surprisingly reasonable money. I think the figures are something like $30,000 for the engine and $12,000 in parts every 1200 miles of running.

    Either way, the all-time pinnacle of American racing is within the range of an ordinary rich professional. You could run all season for a hundred grand.

    Of course, that assumes you’ve got the skill to control a ChampCar…

    $15,000 worth of Star Mazda will eat any roadgoing supercar for breakfast around any American track except maybe Road America.

    If you really wanted to push your luck, you can buy a decent if obsolete shifter kart chassis for $1500, and try your luck on the ekartingnews.com classifieds for a $1000 ICC. I bet you could get within a second a lap of the SKUSA/NESKC frontrunners if you were really, really good (Gary Carlton/Mike Giessen good).

    • 0 avatar
      SKUSA_boy

      I completely agree with you.

      Except for the part about getting a $1500 kart that isn’t completely trashed. A decent used moto or ICC package is usually still at least $4000 dollars for a complete engine and chassis. There is cheaper stuff out there, except it is usually in really bad shape.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        Come up to New England – you can get a $1200-2500 shifter chassis that still has decent brakes on it.

        I’ve got a VM ICC that has less than $700 in it; it makes 175 psi compression.

  • avatar
    SKUSA_boy

    I will take a Champcar over a supercar any day!

  • avatar

    Team Gazoo warns on its website that the timing is not official yet, but if it is, then it would beat the times of the Nissan GT-R (7 min 24 sec), of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (7 minutes 19 sec) and that of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS (7 minutes 18 seconds), “which would be a great honor.

    Speaking of the ZR1 at the ‘Ring, the same car actually set the lap record twice, first at 7:26 and then at 7:19, with newer Michelin Pilot Sport tires. Chevy brought it out for their centennial parade on Woodward. Pics and video here:
    http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=4040

    I wonder how much Toyota/Lexus will use the LFA ‘Ring effort to promote the car. If I’m not mistaken, they offer a “Nurburgring” package for the vehicle. By comparison, GM doesn’t use the success of the Corvette racing team or efforts like the ‘Ring record as well they could in terms of marketing. 45 years later Ford still gets glory for taking it to Ferrari on the track. The Corvette C6R has been a very successful racer and Chevy just doesn’t take advantage of that in terms of marketing the Corvette or Chevy in general.

    Even “Jake” the great Corvette Racing logo that uses the traditional crossed flags Corvette logo as the eyes of a skull, was generated by designer Eddie Jabbour of Kick Design who happened to attend a race, not Chevy. At first it was an unofficial mascot and it took a while for Chevy to even sell “Jake” merchandise.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      This truly is tragic, kind of like how Ford made a big splash in Rallysport then only made enough of their rally-tuned cars to meet homogalation standards.. which kind of defeats the purpose I think, I know where I live a car that could take ‘special-stage’ abuse and keep on going and be fun on pavement as well would probably go down a treat.

    • 0 avatar

      Lexus makes 50 of its Nurburgring Edition – if you are fast, there will be one left!

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    The ‘Ring time, in my not-so-humble opinion, is 50% dyno/aero package and 50% conditions at the track the day of test. It means nothing to me, but that might be because I’ve actually driven the ‘Ring.

    • 0 avatar

      Jack, don’t you compare times of different cars on the same track?

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        The ‘Ring is nothing like a standard American racetrack. To begin with, there’s the fact that it’s much tougher to be repeatable over the Ring’s length than, say, Laguna Seca.

        There’s also the issue of weather, which varies from lap to lap and also from one end of the course to another.

        Finally, there is the nature of the track itself; there is a lot of full-throttle stuff, sometimes for half a minute at a time, and the speeds reached are much higher than at a normal road course. A little headwind might mean you do 115 down the back straight at Ledges instead of 120; at the Ring it could mean 160 instead of 180 or 185. That difference alone can obliterate differences between cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Spoken like a true Car-Snob.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      That doesn’t really mean that it’s not fair though since all the major auto manufacturers have more than enough money to spend day after day at the track until they get that good day. It’s not like this run was just some random day, this was a particularly good day, and the same goes for most ring run times that get published. Basically since everyone competing has the time and money to keep trying it’s fair since none of these numbers are a worst case scenario, they’re all the best case, best weather, best track condition scenario.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    Yes, I have to agree. If racing qualifying sessions are any measure of how quickly times change, then to have anything other than Nordschleifen laps done on the same day at as close to the same time as possible is quite meaningless.

  • avatar

    There is another factor. When I was in the business, there was an agreement amongst the manufacturers not to advertise top speed (just like there is one to throttle the engine at 250 kmh – any dealer knows how to switch that off.) So what’s a supercar manufacturer to do? Take it to the Ring.
    .

  • avatar
    Britspeak

    The Bugatti Veyron doesn’t have a particularly awesome ‘Ring time, and guess what? No one gives a %$#@!

    The rich car freaks who buy this stuff don’t give a #$$% – the Carrera GT, recently bested by the GT3RS, etc. around the ‘Ring, actually went up in value over the last couple of years. Ditto the Zonda. Why? Because no one gives a #$%^! I am unaware of any offical times for a McLaren F1, but I’m willing to bet that it wouldn’t put a single dent in its reputation, even if a Lexus ‘beat’ it.

    Why? because the idea that a carefully preparred ‘road car’ with near racing compound tires that will last only a few laps, carefully considered gear ratios, spring and damper rates, aerodynamic tweeks, etc JUST for one race course somehow confers hero status is played-out.

    Plenty of artciles and opinions are out there about how the search for ‘Ring times have ruined cars, by demanding overly harsh susupension settings, unfriendly vehicle dynamics, and have otherwise crapped up well-balanced cars. Additionally, once people started trying to replicate the claimed GT-R time, it became obvious just how (to put it politely) managed these times are.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      This is I think a much more reasonable criticism. Sending your car in publicly-purchasable trim around the ‘Ring and hoping for a respectable time to put a feather in your cap is one thing, but it sounds like the manufacturers have truly lost the plot with this in their pursuit of the biggest dick possible to wave in their competitor’s faces.

  • avatar
    spw

    I sense some feelings getting hurt Bertel. I am sure you know what Radical SR8 LM is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Radical_SR8.jpg.

    And it far cry from LFA with its airbags, Mark Levinson stereo, remote touch, etc, etc.

    Fact is, LFA is the fastest real car ever tested on Nordschleife.

    • 0 avatar
      slowtyper

      The original post by Toyoda on Team Gazoo blog does claim that they’ve set the record of any “serial production car” on the Ring with the LFA. It is one heck of a bragging right IMHO.

  • avatar
    Ion

    It’s not “official” yet but I’m almost sure it’s an accurate time. Lexus announced the ‘ring edition months ago and It’s probably taken them this long to get the time as fast as it is.

    A good ring time is what they think will keep this car from becoming a modern day Bricklin.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I don’t see what is so impressive about this car. A real supercar would have caught fire, you know.

  • avatar
    imag

    I actually like the fact that racetrack times are part of the new benchmark. A good ‘ring time says more to me about a modern super/sports car than does 0-60, 1/4 mile, or top speed metrics. At least handling is part of the equation in a ring time.

    And most LFAs will indeed be used on the track. Toyota is making sure that their owners are interested in driving them there. Say what you want about the policy, but it at least means they won’t solely be garage queens and boulevard cruisers.


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