Tag: Racing

By on April 23, 2017

BMW track day

For the most part, crash avoidance and driver assistance technology is a welcome addition addition to the automotive landscape. While they can be a little invasive sometimes, they’re usually doing what they’re supposed to and helping to save the lives of drivers who may have had a momentary lapse in judgment or focus. However, there is a lot of worry over how lane assistance or emergency braking software will behave when you bring a streetcar to the track.

Several chapters of the BMW Car Club of America and the Porsche Club of America have already decided to forbid any vehicle equipped with aids. The fear is that track day organizers or instructors could be found liable if a car suddenly jerks right when it approaches the apex of a corner or suddenly decelerate when in close proximity to other vehicles. A driver might be caught off-guard if a car unexpectedly takes over and be unsure how to mitigate inputs they were unprepared for.

The bottom line is that newer cars are finding themselves in danger of being banned wholesale, and that’s just not going to work if track days are to continue in the years to come.

(Read More…)

By on April 6, 2017

Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Car at Long Road Racing, Image: © 2017 Bozi Tatarevic

The Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car is one of the most affordable, ready-to-race cars on the market today. The racer starts as a fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 and receives over 250 changes to become track ready. Mazda wanted the cars to be built to a single spec, so it tapped Long Road Racing to be the sole builder of the car.

I paid them a visit to see just what goes into building these race-ready roadsters.

(Read More…)

By on April 6, 2017

2016 Subaru WRX at an autocross event, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

Talk about being careful what you wish for. I now have about 40 questions in my inbox for “Ask Jack,” with more steadily trickling in. I’m going to answer all of them, either here or via e-mail, and in a semi-timely manner to boot. So don’t be afraid to send your questions to [email protected]. I’m ready, and waiting, to give you the kind of bad advice you can only get from somebody who’s crashed more marriages than he has crashed race cars!

Robert writes:

Hi Jack. In keeping with the mantra, “Want to be a better driver? Get a worse tire,” I do indeed want to be a better driver. Specifically, a better autocross driver. I’ve run the original equipment, 600-treadwear tires on my ’14 Honda Civic Si for my first four events. I suck, but I’m steadily improving with every event. I can get one, maybe two more events out of these tires before they’re down past the tread-wear markers. All the instructors I’ve driven with say the same thing: get Potenza RE71s because the tires I have are costing me 2 to 5 seconds. That gap would have gotten me on the podium at the last two events. But I know I’m still leaving seconds out there due to my inexperience. Should I go Potenza when I replace the tires?

This is the sort of question I love to get — thoughtful, easy to understand, and right in the proverbial wheel house. Even better, the answer to the question will be useful to many of you, even if you have no idea what an “autocross” might be.

(Read More…)

By on March 22, 2017

hardtop-available-for-mx-5-cup-race-car-1024x554

Nor should they, really. Mazda’s MX-5 Miata already offers the option of an aluminum-and-steel overcast with its delightfully gimmicky and functional RF variant.

Still, past MX-5 owners often shelled out for a simple and attractive fiberglass top to accompany their factory cloth top. You’d often find it stashed in the garage next to the lawn mower. So popular were these aftermarket accessories, Mazda saw fit to offer customers the all-weather confidence and convenience of a retractable hardtop, starting in 2006. With the RF, it chose a different way of letting the sun shine in.

Well, there’s now a new removable top available to MX-5 owners, but you’ll never see it on the street. (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2017

A touching moment of solidarity crowned the inaugural series event. During the second race’s podium, the winner and Nissan GT Academy driver decided to offer his two Nissan Canada cheques of 1,500 worth of parts to new driver Mario Berthiaume, who was unable to start the race after seriously damaging his car in a practice session accident. Image: Nissan Canada

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.

(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

Rolex 24 Cadillac Victory

Cadillac took a definite “more is more” approach for its return to prototype racing. By handing over its engineering masterpiece, the V8 DPi-V.R, to the distinguished Wayne Taylor Racing, LeMans veteran Massimiliano “Max” Angelelli, and NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon, it assured itself the one-two victory at the Rolex 24 in Daytona.

However, despite an ideal finish, it wasn’t a perfect day for the team. (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2017

Bernie Ecclestone (Ryan Bayona/Flickr)

Formula One super-magnate and extremely old person Bernie Ecclestone was just ousted from his position as chief executive by Liberty Media — F1’s new owners.

Having bought the company and the voting rights, the American media group’s board of directors designated Chase Carey as Formula One’s new CEO. Unlike Ecclestone, who has been active in motorsport since the 1940s, Carey has a ridiculous mustache and no racing experience whatsoever.  (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2017

Toyota Yaris hot hatch

Toyota promised the world a Yaris hatchback that would valiantly rise above the role of a plain-Jane commuter car, and here it is.

Expected to premiere at the Geneva Motor Show this March, the high performance three-door subcompact borrows inspiration, parts, and probably a name from Toyota’s Gazoo racing division.  (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2017

1998 Subaru Impreza WRC; Image: Prodrive

The name Prodrive isn’t one you’ll stumble across every day, and sounds a bit like a company that might offer teen driving courses. However, it’s one of the world’s most successful race car shops, and bests many individual manufacturer efforts.

How successful?

How does six World Rally Championships, four Le Mans wins, five World Endurance Championships, and four British Touring Car Championships victories sound for a start?

But while “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” is the parable that motivates many marques in motorsport, Prodrive sells no road cars.

How does a small, generally unheard of firm compete against the likes of Porsche, Honda, and Ford? Simple — those companies hire Prodrive to run their race programs. (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2017

Formula One USA

If you live in the United States, odds are that you prefer NASCAR over Formula One. However, if you occupy space anywhere else in the world, the opposite is likely true.

Liberty Media, the American company that purchased Formula One for $8 billion earlier this year, is planning to flip the script and revamp the motorsport to better appeal to everyone — especially Yankees.

The strategy revolves around stretching the traditional weekend of practice, qualifying, and actual race into a full week’s worth of events and coverage, aping the stock car strategy of turning a single competition into an automotive Burning Man.   (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

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You’ve heard a lot in the media about how 2016 has been Literally Hitler Terrible. Princess Leia died. Donald Trump was elected. The McRib only returned in selected markets.

I can’t sympathize with those people. 2016 worked out fine for me, and it was the first year since 2012 that I wasn’t hospitalized for some injury. That doesn’t mean that I’m not resolved to make 2017 even better. Have you made your resolutions yet? If not, I have a few suggestions:

(Read More…)

By on December 28, 2016

ergo

If dying is easier than comedy, then surely driving a race car is easier than building one. Which is why I’m thrilled to have outsourced the management of my Neon and Danger Girl’s MX-5 Cup car; I might be able to win a race now and again, but my attempts to handle the vehicles myself amounted to one long and unmitigated disaster. Since 2014, the Plymouth has been in the capable hands of Jon Shevel at Albany Autoworks. He’s directly responsible for said Neon’s transition from a car that hadn’t started since 2009 and couldn’t pass tech to a podium finish in both SCCA and NASA for 2016.

DG’s MX-5 is now with The Boost Brothers. Check them out, watch their YouTube videos, learn all sorts of stuff about fixing crash repair, welding cracked tubes, swapping out hubs, that sort of thing. Bozi and Bojan have been pulling quite a few overnight shifts getting the car ready for the 2017 American Endurance Racing season. Even better, they’ve made pretty much all of the decisions as to what goes on the car and how everything goes together.

The only major choice that has been left in my hands should be simple enough: we need an FIA-legal race seat to replace the battered UltraShield that came with the car. But when it comes to racing seats, as with so many other things in this world, nothing’s quite as simple as it should be.

(Read More…)

By on December 22, 2016

Ferrari Alfa F1 2016

FCA and Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne said that he would love to see Alfa Romeo returning to the Formula 1 Championship with its own team, provided that they are never, ever as good as Scuderia Ferrari. Instead of being a genuine F1 contender, he imagines Alfa as the junior varsity team designed to condition future talent for its big-league brother.

“Alfa Romeo in F1 could become a fine breeding ground for young Italian drivers,” Marchionne said after announcing GP2’s Antonio Giovinazzi as Ferrari’s new third driver at the company’s annual Christmas media event. “For that very reason we are thinking about bringing it back, as our competitor, to racing, to Formula One. It’s important for Alfa to return.” (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2016

boxster2

Earlier today, I published an article regarding the newest Porsche Club of America auction. Shortly after it went up, I received an email from Vu Nguyen, PCA’s Executive Director. In this email, Mr. Nguyen managed to refrain from calling me an idiot or implying that I could not read contest rules. But this is what he did say:

(Read More…)

By on December 13, 2016

Toyota Yaris Gazoo WRC

As it prepares to return to the World Rally Championship after a 17-year absence, Toyota and its Gazoo racing division just revealed a piece of brain candy for hot hatch lovers.

Making sky-high horsepower from its diminutive four-cylinder, the Toyota Yaris WRC hits the pavement — and dirt and snow — in Monte Carlo next month, but the vehicle itself could spell a less buttoned-down future for the brand. (Read More…)

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