Our last couple of Rare Rides have been special limited edition vehicles. Last week we saw a GMC Spectre which, upon viewing, my friend declared, “That interior looks like an old Taco Bell!” Prior to that, a Nissan Desert Runner made all your Zima-beach-toting dreams come true, even with its sketchy and unclear history.
But today’s limited edition is more rare and more ugly than either of those two prior examples. It’s also newer, which makes its styling all the more egregious and offensive. By the year 2000, we were supposed to be beyond such gaudy nonsense. But the Monte Carlo SS Jeff Gordon Signature Series Commemorative Edition is as ridiculous as its name is long.
There’s an old saying, coined by NASCAR legend Junior Johnson, that suggests the quickest way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a big one. While my yard is notably devoid of multi-million dollar race haulers, I can certainly understand the seeds of truth in this cautionary tale: when the powers-that-be decide to change the rules in a particular series, it causes all hands to reach for their checkbooks.
There have been plenty of rule changes in motorsport over the years. Formula 1 changes its downforce packages more often than my wife’s teenage sister changes her Snapchat filters, for example. F1 is also known for decreeing the use of new engines, ranging over the years from turbo V6s to honkin’ V10s to small-displacement V12s, not to mention the bizarre powertrain configurations that appeared in the ’60s and ’70s. The amount of adaptation beggars belief.
Stock car racing isn’t immune to this trend, either.
Automotive athletes tend to age a little better other sports figures. While Formula 1 drivers tend to be a little younger, the average NASCAR driver is in their late thirties. That means racing retirement can be delayed well-past the comparative norm for an Olympic boxer or linebacker in the NFL.
However, every sport seems to share the common theme of athletes’ complete inability to remain retired after making a public announcement that they were packing it in. (Read More…)
R.I.P. victory lap burnouts? It sure looks that way.
NASCAR seems to have reached a tipping point in its tolerance of post-race victory burnouts, some of which damage the vehicle enough to interfere with the post-race inspection process. After an incident last weekend, the organization says it might have to lay down rules, Autoblog reports. (Read More…)
On Sunday, I watched a fantastic car race. Unfortunately, based on the shots of the crowd, I might have been among very few who did.
The INDYCAR (are we still capitalizing it?) Pocono 500 had everything a race fan could want: upwards of thirty lead changes, some spectacularly competitive and aggressive racing (including one restart where the drivers went seven wide), and a tight points race where the season championship would be greatly affected by the outcome. Unfortunately, there was also a spectacular crash that has one racer battling for his life.
Meanwhile, the race had far fewer fans in attendance than the 30,000 that Indy officials said that they would need in order for Pocono to be on the race schedule in 2016.
I am completely at a loss to think of another sport that tests man and machine as much as motorsport. Maybe bobsledding? Nah, scratch that.
Automakers have a history of testing their latest and greatest at road courses, ovals and street circuits all over the world. Some of the best technological innovations have come directly from racing. But, is that still the case? Is racing still the test bed it used to be for what we see on our cars a decade from now? And does it still help automakers capture the hearts and minds of the car-buying public?
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After a weekend of rain for this year’s running of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, critics questioned IndyCar and the CDBIGP honcho Roger Penske’s decision to schedule the race event in late May, making it the first race in the schedule after the series’ marquee event, the Indy 500. While in most recent years the racing at Belle Isle has experienced picture postcard worthy sunny skies, holding a race on an island during late spring in the Great Lakes region will always carry some risk of rain. Penske should know that. It was bad weather experienced by another racing promoter that resulted in Penske acquiring what would become one of the more successful business enterprises of his exceptionally successful career. (Read More…)
It’s not every day you’re offered an opportunity to drive a 500 horsepower actual race used NASCAR, so you can imagine my excitement when my dad presented me with a gift card to the NASCAR Racing Experience for Christmas last year. After all the wrapping paper was put away, I realized I had the hardest decision of my whole life ahead of me.
Following punishments by NASCAR to the Michael Waltrip Racing team after MWR drivers, crew chiefs and spotters tried to game the system for getting into NASCAR’s playoff-like Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with an intentional spin and deliberately slow driving, on Thursday Michael Waltrip’s longtime sponsor, the NAPA auto parts store chain, announced that they will end their relationship with Waltrip’s race team at the end of this year. (Read More…)
The number 42 Dodge Charger was running well. Although it had qualified in 9th position with a top speed of only 177 miles per hour, during the race it was clocked as high as 188 miles per hour and its driver, an amateur racer who made his living singing cowboy ballads at the Grand Ole Opry, was really mixing it up with the professional drivers. The Winston 500 was a big deal and, as one of the premier NASCAR races, there as a lot at stake. Talladega was one of those legendary places that captured the imagination and the attention of every race fan in the nation was focused on the event. For older, more experienced drivers a good performance meant job security while for the new guys, like Darrell Waltrip who was making his first ever Sprint Cup start in the race, a good performance could mark a man out from his peers and maybe garner the attention of one of the big teams. Given the expense, the effort, and the experience that it took to even field a car in the race, how was it that a country and western singer in a car paid for mostly out of his own pocket could be running so well? The answer is simple, he was cheating. (Read More…)
In the 1982 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheim racetrack, driving a BMW powered Brabham Nelson Piquet Sr. was leading 18 laps into the 45 lap race. As he passed backmarker Eliseo Salazar to lap him at the new Ostkurve chicane, Salazar turned into Piquet, wrecking the two of them. It was a relatively low speed collision and neither was injured but both of their races were over. An enraged Piquet was already gesturing angrily at Salazar as he got out of his car. Piquet then pretty much charged at Salazar, stiff armed him, then hit him with a left right combination of punches to the head followed by a karate kick towards Salazar’s groin, which missed. Next time some hoity toity F1 fan mocks NASCAR and the Allison brothers versus Cale Yarborough throwdown, remind them of Piquet’s kick.