Category: Racing

By on June 18, 2019

This year’s 24 Hours of LeMans was expectedly dominated by the two LMP1 entries from Toyota, but it wasn’t the expected car that won. LMP2 had a huge battle of its own, American-based IMSA teams challenged in GTE Pro, and the heartfelt GTE Am win changed after the end of the race.

After dominating for nearly the whole race and resetting the track record, the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, and Jose Maria Lopez came in with a down tire. Upon going back out, they realized that the tire pressure sensor system was reporting the incorrect tire’s pressure and they had to come in once again. Driving the entire track with a low tire cost them dearly. Read More >

By on March 15, 2019

This coming weekend,  dozens of the best endurance racers in the world take to a bumpy old airstrip in Florida for the annual 12 Hours of Sebring. God knows I’d love to be there — but not in the stands. I’m a man of action, you know. I want to get involved.

I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but much like me, you aren’t going to be a world champion race car driver. Each year, there are roughly 20 drivers in the world with a seat in Formula One. Another 30 or so seats in IndyCar, and 40ish in NASCAR. Several scores of seats are available in IMSA, but bring a checkbook. If you’re reading this and you are not 10 years old with seven years of high-level karting experience, blessed with ungodly talent, or paired with a parent with ungodly money (see Stroll, Lance), you aren’t going to be spraying champagne on international television.

Facing this reality, what’s an enthusiast to do? One could always build or buy a race car or get involved in track days or autocross. But there is another option that comes with both minimal cost and risk — working on a pit crew.

Read More >

By on January 15, 2019


There once was a time when racing credentials were mandatory if an automaker wanted customers to take a performance model seriously. However, with today’s vast sea of automotive websites (thank you for choosing this one, by the way) individuals can spend countless hours poring over spec sheets and reading reviews from every Tom, Dick, and Harry with access to a keyboard.

While we all like easy access to information, we’re also suckers for the entirely subjective “good old days” of motoring. Racing mean raising a car’s profile and, hopefully, improving sales while encouraging aftermarket support. With that in mind, Hyundai has entered itself in the 2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series and is taking the new Veloster N TCR.  Read More >

By on December 7, 2018

Having already set a lap record for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year, Volkswagen’s I.D. R has served the company well. Intended to showcase the brand’s might in electrification, the blisteringly fast R is as much a purpose-built track car as it is a marketing tool, and its long-term plans involve setting more records.

For 2019, VW wants to set a new lap record at the Nürburgring. Officially, the German automaker is only interested in defeating the Nio EP9’s record for electric vehicles. But we know that the I.D. R is a forced to be reckoned with. An overall victory would not be beyond the realm of possibilities and Volkswagen knows it.  Read More >

By on October 4, 2018

Somewhere along the way, somehow, the Sports Car Club of America lost the focus on fun. I know this, because a few years ago, after a particularly tedious conversation with some officials on the SCCA Solo Events Board about whether or not I had put the proper roll hoops on my car, I said, “Enough.” After about six years of national-level autocross, everything about dealing with the SCCA or participating in their events had become tedious, and nothing was fun.

The only way I ever had any fun at all was if I won, and since I had chosen to participate in the toughest and most highly subscribed class in autocross, the chances of that happening were becoming slimmer and slimmer all the time, and the costs were escalating to the point where road racing became a cheaper option. Think how crazy that is. So, I quit.

But three years ago, the SCCA began its Track Night program. Two years ago, Targa became a thing. And just like that, thanks primarily to the efforts of Heyward Wagner and his experiential team, the SCCA became fun again. It wasn’t all about spring rates and spoiler heights and tire width and thousandths of seconds — it was about having fun with cars.

So imagine how bummed I was when I started to hear rumors that Targa was dead, the victim of high costs and low ROI. Sure enough, the rumors were followed by an email that confirmed its untimely murder, but there was hope — Targa was being replaced by a new program called “Time Trials Nationals.” The idea was to have an event that Track Night participants could evolve into — maybe wheel-to-wheel racing is too intimidating or costly, but they’d still like to be able to compete against the clock on a track, not in a parking lot.

After running a couple of regional events as warm-ups, the SCCA held their first Time Trials Nationals event this past weekend at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. There was no way I was going to miss it. So I didn’t. I packed up my Focus RS with all the tools and driving gear I could fit in the hatch, pulled my son out of school on a Friday, and headed west to find out what this new program was all about. And what I found out was that running a bone stock car against the clock is a hell of a lot of fun.

Read More >

By on July 29, 2018

Art cars kind of suck. Even though BMW has managed to produce a handful of stellar examples — models enhanced by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Alexander Calder, and Andy Warhol — plenty of the brand’s artistic liveries have been far less appealing to the layperson.

Other companies have produced art cars as well. Last year, Lexus unveiled an incredible IS sedan covered in 41,999 programmable LEDs that created a perpetually changing and utterly hypnotic visual experience. However, its most recent example left me feeling a little empty inside.

Art is subjective, I know. But, when it’s slathered all over an automobile, you want it to be expressive of the car’s personality — or at least striking in a way that becomes transformative. The LFA Lexus brought to the Total 24 Hours of Spa race this weekend does neither. Frankly, it feels one step removed from purchasing some mass produced vinyl graphics off an online retailer and sticking them wherever.  Read More >

By on July 6, 2018

Toyota made it clear it wants the returning Supra to have presence in motorsport when it unveiled the GR Racing Concept in March of this year. However, based on its looks, we assumed the model was destined for the grand touring circuits.

While that still may be the case, Toyota recently announced that the Supra will make its way to NASCAR in 2019. If you’re worried about the Camry, don’t be. The sedan will continue running in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series while the Supra handles the Xfinity Series.

Even though the NASCAR Supra is representative of the production model, the two won’t share many parts. All stock cars are required to run naturally aspirated, pushrod V8 engines — which the production model certainly won’t have. But it shows Toyota is serious about the returning Supra making a splash in the U.S.

The automaker no doubt hopes the vintage maxim “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” still rings true.  Read More >

By on June 25, 2018

Volkswagen’s I.D. R Pikes Peak all-electric race car made history at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past weekend, becoming the fastest vehicle ever to tackle the mountain.

The intent was for VW to restore its honor (after leaving the event in shame in the 1980s) and best the EV record set by course veteran Rhys Millen in 2016. But the German automaker’s electrified demon handily smashed that record. With a total time of 7:57.148, the Volkswagen I.D. R has proven its mettle and its driver, Romain Dumas, will be cemented as a Pikes Peak legend on par with Rod Millen and Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima.

The previous unlimited class record had gone untouched since 2013, when Sébastien Loeb throttled his Peugeot 208 T16 across the finish line in a very lean 8:13.878. Unless another manufacturer becomes absolutely hellbent on building the ultimate hill climb car, we expect Volkswagen to hold the record for a while.  Read More >

By on June 21, 2018

Three decades ago, video games could only offer the vaguest approximation of driving. Things are very different today. While a lot of modern software still forgoes realism for the sake a fun, simulators have grown in popularity and are becoming incredibly realistic. Real tracks are built to scale, weather effects have meaning, and automobiles behave in a faithful manner. Gamers can even swap their gamepads for honest-to-god cockpits.

Racing simulators have become so effective that Nissan’s PlayStation GT Academy program is now in its eighth year. The event pits thousands of gamers against each other in order to find some they can put behind the wheel of an actual race car. Players then receive additional simulator and on-road training before being allowed to compete in legitimate races.

While we could endlessly debate how well video game skills translate to actual racing, they do provide gamers with an opportunity to learn the tracks and sharpen reaction times. They’ve certainly proven competitive enough for the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile to sanction virtual racing leagues.  Read More >

By on June 20, 2018

Volkswagen went to Pikes Peak this week for the explicit purpose of exacting revenge on the mountain, and it looks as if it may soon achieve it. The company’s I.D. R racer just set the fastest qualifying time. At 3:16.083 minutes, the electric behemoth managed to best every other vehicle qualifying on the 5-mile track track.

In fact, three-time Pikes Peak winner and Porsche factory driver Romain Dumas was 11.049 seconds quicker than the next fastest driver — Simone Faggioli in his internal-combustion Norma M20 SF PKP.

That bodes well for VW, as we already know Norma can build a good car; Dumas used an M20 to win the hill climb in 2014 and 2016. Volkswagen already has the right driver so, assuming the car doesn’t go off pace near the top of the mountain, it’s totally possible the world record could end up going to an electric vehicle.  Read More >

By on June 14, 2018

Over the weekend, model Winnie Harlow mistakenly waved the checkered flag a lap early at otherwise dull Canadian Formula One Grand Prix. While not the first incident of its kind, the error has pushed the FIA into considering the adoption of a digitized checkered flag, leaving the black-and-white banner to serve in a more symbolic capacity.

Apparently, Harlow had been informed by an official that the race was ending and prematurely flew the flag — an understandable mistake on her part.

Sebastian Vettel still nabbed his 50th career grand prix win, despite the confusion. However, there are dangers stemming from accidentally calling a race early that the FIA wants to address. With drivers perpetually plugged into their team via radio headsets, it’s unlikely most would automatically assume the event was over. But risks remain if the pilot of a lead car suddenly assumes victory has been cinched. Bleeding off speed for a victory lap could result in pursuing cars passing or even striking the vehicle.  Read More >

By on April 17, 2018

Global Rallycross (GRC) may be the perfect distillation of motorsport for those with a limited attention span. Unlike the World Rally Championship, Red Bull’s Rallycross takes place on tight circuits that allow spectators to see every second of the six-lap race. Meanwhile, a full grid ensures lots of contact between drivers while a dirt section ensures drifts and ramps guarantee plenty of airborne action. Excluding the qualifying laps, the entire event is a short burst of raw aggression as professional drivers power over-engineered and ludicrously fast economy cars around the track.

Unfortunately, a trail of unpaid bills has forced Global Rallycross to cease operations for the 2018 season. With its inaugural season having taken place in 2011, nobody expected GRC to fold this fast. But that appears to be what happened.  Read More >

By on April 9, 2018

Gran Turismo is arguably the first video game franchise to appeal to car enthusiasts en masse. While Sega’s Out Run had us sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari Testarossa as early as 1987 and Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed let us abuse a handful of exotics by 1994, Polyphony Digital hit us with 140 licensed reproductions of real-world automobiles in 1997. Two years later, Gran Turismo 2 upped the ante with 650 new and used cars, even more tracks, and extensive modifications. This kicked off a bizarre symbiotic relationship between game developers and automakers.

Advancements in technology allowed burgeoning car fans to virtually experience their favorite rides, as well as new models they’d never even heard of. Developers took notice of the GT success story, as did manufacturers, which recognized the usefulness of these games as an incredibly potent marketing tool. Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have all developed concept vehicles that debuted inside a video game, Ford briefed Turn 10 Studios so it could nail the GT’s specs in Forza 6 before the car even finished development, Toyota offered a free demo disc of Gran Turismo 4 as part of its 2004 model brochure, and Porsche unveiled the GT2 RS during the Forza Motorsport 7 press announcement at last year’s E3 conference.

While corporate partnerships between automakers and game developers are nothing new, it’s exceedingly rare to see a vehicle intended exclusively for the digital realm drive off the screen and onto the racetrack. But that’s exactly what Audi has done with the E-Tron Vision Gran Turismo.  Read More >

By on April 9, 2018

Räikkönen post Bahrain DNF

It’s easy to forget that, like drivers, pit crew members frequently put themselves in harm’s way for the big win. We saw a brutal reminder of this on Sunday when Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigorini had his leg run over by driver Kimi Räikkönen post-release. While the incident wasn’t life threatening, it did serve to show that the pit lane is not for the faint of heart (nor is the video, seen below).

Räikkönen had come in for his second tire swap of the Bahrain Grand Prix and was given the go ahead to launch before Cigorini had finished his work. He and another mechanic were still attempting to remove the left rear tire when the car was released and Francesco was struck. The car was stopped while still in pit lane and retired immediately, killing any hope of a podium finish. The normally calm Räikkönen removed his steering wheel and threw it into the cockpit in anger after realizing he’d be stuck with a DNF. Read More >

By on March 19, 2018

Electric vehicles have been a sore spot for many motorsport enthusiasts — odd, considering they offer massive performance gains via gobs of instant torque. There’s just something about EVs that keeps them from gaining mass appeal. That said, Formula E is gaining some traction and automakers continue developing high-end electrics in the hopes of turning a profit and paving the way for mainstream models.

Volkswagen Group, which has promised to shift deep into electrification in the coming years, really needs to make these cars appealing. Its I.D. product line for the VW brand has spawned numerous concept vehicles with an emphasis on building positive associations. The Buzz is the most obvious example. Essentially the battery-electric reincarnation of the Microbus, the Buzz aims to help customers see EVs as friendly and fun, while tacking on some nostalgia for good measure.

However, the Buzz doesn’t offer heart-pounding excitement or mind-warping performance, so VW had to build a battery-powered racer. Announced last year, teaser images of the model showed a full-tilt insane vehicle outfitted in hill-climb gear. Volkswagen claims the model will enter into the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for 2018 to take revenge on behalf of a Mk. II Golf from 1987. Read More >

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