Tag: Motorsport

By on March 31, 2021

Tasked with building something to serve as the official safety car for the 2021 FIA Formula E World Championship, Mini has delivered a vehicle that bridges the gap between the raucous and rowdy John Cooper Works model and all-electric Mini Electric. While one-offs aren’t usually all that interesting to your average consumer, the Mini Pacesetter seems to be providing the automaker with a space to test some of its theories about how a JCW EV might take shape and will likely foreshadow such a product.

The manufacturer has even acknowledged this, though it’s a little early to expect an electrified version of Mini’s flagship performance model. Despite looking like it’s ready to compete in a series of its own, the Pacesetter uses an unmodified motor lifted from the Mini Electric. That means about 180 horsepower and a smidgen over 200 foot-pounds of torque, which would have been outstanding on the featherweight original. But the last few decades have forced Mini’s products to become comparatively portly, requiring the brand to shave as much weight off the Pacesetter as it could.  (Read More…)

By on October 30, 2020

Unaware that the inherent danger of motorsport is often what makes it popular (check the ratings for any series throughout history and count the number of driver fatalities if you’re in doubt) Roborace plans on becoming the first global championship for battery-driven autonomous cars programmed to run the course without help. Organizers are convinced that the sport will eventually yield compelling competition with teams using nothing more than their own coding acumen and self-driving hardware. Chassis and powertrains are shared between vehicles, making this a battle of real-time computing algorithms and artificial intelligence technologies.

It actually sounds kind of boring. But one of Roborace’s first live-broadcasted events opened with a bang after one of the cars pitched itself directly into a wall — suggesting organizers could still give the viewing public what it wants.

(Read More…)

By on October 5, 2020

Honda has decided to leave Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season to allegedly focus on electric and fuel-cell development. The company has said F1 hybrid combustion engines didn’t mesh with its plan of realizing “carbon neutrality by 2050” and has opted to leave Red Bull and AlphaTauri in a difficult spot moving forward. They’ll both need to find a replacement engine supplier before the 2022 season while Honda decides where it might make a better environmental impact — settling on IndyCar.

Less than a full weekend after vowing to abandon F1, Honda doubled down on Indy by agreeing to a multi-year extension to continue supplying motors until at least 2023. In fact, Honda Performance Development (HPD) is actively working on a 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 hybrid unit, aimed at roughly 900 horsepower, for the sport’s next generation of cars. While we’re pleased to see any manufacturer maintaining its commitment to motorsports, the decision seems at odds with Honda’s plan to pull out of Formula 1 — which has likewise acknowledged a desire to become carbon neutral. Like Indy, F1 is also planning on using hybrid combustion engines for the foreseeable future.

(Read More…)

By on September 14, 2020

Interested in joining Formula 1? We hope you have $200 million handy because that’s the amount you have to pay to enter a new team under the sport’s seventh Concorde Agreement. Signed by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the Constructors Association, and existing F1 teams last month, this arrangement exists to help ensure participants remain committed to the sport to offer organizers and broadcasters the ability to maximize marketability.

They also tend to be kept a secret, with only their most general aspects of the deal ever making it out to the public. We already knew that teams would be subject to additional fees through 2025 to prove they were serious about joining while discouraging existing names from exiting the sport. But McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has since confirmed the amount with Racer. Over the weekend he said new entrants would be starring down the barrel of a $200-million fee, adding that the rationale was to avoid diluting the existing prize totals split between teams.

(Read More…)

By on August 5, 2020

Delayed six times by the coronavirus pandemic, Roger Penske vowed the Indy 500 would not be ran in 2020 without an audience in the stands. Having purchased the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in January, Penske said he was willing to run the race with limited capacity (quoting estimates that continued to come down as the year progressed) and drafted an extensive manual to help organizers keep attendees safe. However, the document will no longer be needed, now that the decision has been made to hold the event with the rafters completely empty on August 23rd.

Safety has trumped good times once again as Mr. Penske noted cases continue to rise in Indiana, forcing him to recant his decision to allow fans into the venue. Only essential personnel will be allowed to enter this year’s Indianapolis 500. (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2020

Previewed way back at the 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon, Toyota’s (Gazoo Racing) GR Super Sport Concept now serves as the template for its next entry into 24 Hour of Le Mans, tapped for the new Hypercar Class that’s effectively replacing FIA’s World Endurance Championship LMP1. The new classification is supposed to reinvigorate the sport by mandating homologation of the wildest inductees, a practice which often leads to the most stunning performance machines ever to grace the road.

That means Toyota has to build at least 20 examples of something street legal that shares more than a handful of components with its LM racer. Rumor has it, something is already in development — and should exist well beyond the confines of what one normally thinks of when they envision Toyota products.

(Read More…)

By on July 30, 2020

With the historic Pikes Peak International Hill Climb delayed — but miraculously uncancelled — this year, Acura has decided to showboat its updated TLX sedan. While the Type S everyone wants to see take a whack at the course will sit out the competition to serve as the event’s pace car, two gently modified sedans from the 2021 model year will be on hand to dazzle prospective customers.

They may even perk up a few disenfranchised Acura enthusiasts who’ve strayed from the brand.

The prototype TLX Type S comes with the much discussed 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 (355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque) while the more pedestrian racers come with modified 2.0-liter inline-four engine. Those units would have made 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque unmolested, but Acura has assured us they aren’t factory spec anymore  giving them an air of mystery, albeit slight.

(Read More…)

By on June 24, 2020

Over the weekend, NASCAR incurred what was assumed to be a racist incident after a member of outspoken Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace’s team claimed someone had hung a noose in Wallace’s garage. Earlier in the month, the diver released a new livery on his No. 43 Chevrolet promoting Black Lives Matter, saying he and his team stood in broad support of the organization. He also requested NASCAR ban the Confederate flag from all future events — getting his wish and causing a minor ruckus within the community.

The context helped frame the noose that appeared in his garage on Sunday as a racist action and drew massive support from every corner of the sport. Richard Petty came out to said he would stand with Wallace and practically everyone walked with him down Talladega’s pit lane in solidarity. NASCAR President Steve Phelps likewise expressed his backing for Wallace on Monday, saying whoever committed the hateful act would be barred from the sport for life.

This was followed by Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Jay Town saying his office had launched an investigation along with the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The wheels of justice were put swiftly into motion, but it turned out that the noose was just a door pull someone had set up in 2019.   (Read More…)

By on June 11, 2020

NASCAR officially banned the Confederate flag on Wednesday. It will no longer be allowed to appear in regard to any of its corporate properties and fans won’t be able to bring any iconography that might stoke racial tensions or a suspect “yee-haw” from the crowd.

For years, the sport has made unsuccessful efforts to broaden its appeal, so this is hardly a surprise given everything else that’s going on. In fact, an unofficial initiative attempted to ban the flag back in 2015. It never went anywhere, though, and fans continued to arrive with the Stars and Bars in roughly the same numbers.

This time around, the corporate stance is much stronger, and with more public support behind it. Additionally, NASCAR has decided that racing teams will no longer be obligated to stand for the American flag (the supposedly better one) during the national anthem.  (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2020

McLaren says circumstances have encouraged it to get fairly aggressive in its restructuring efforts. Coronavirus lockdowns forced the company, like so many others, to postpone production and forego sales.

While an undesirable scenario for any manufacturer, McLaren Group already faced additional headwinds by being a relatively small manufacturer dependent on low-volume specialty products with astronomical price tags and having its racing program kneecapped the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

Motorsport hasn’t been particularly engaging of late. Formula One seems to have lost the ability for a scrappy upstart to snatch victory away from a more-established team in even a single race and constant rule changing hasn’t helped anything. NASCAR, which intentionally tries to run much closer races, has similarly sabotaged itself by trying to obtain mass appeal. Both also suffer from a deficit of strong personalities piloting the vehicles and cars that are arguably much easier to drive than their forbears, making for fewer wild moments and less serious injuries.

All of this has sent your author back into the loving safety of the World Rally Championship and World Endurance Championship (along with MotoGP). However, the latter form of motorsport may be in danger of losing the oldest race in its playbook — the 24 Hours of Le Mans. While not yet marked for death, the event saw Porsche pull out last week. Subsequent reports indicate that Chevrolet is doing the same; as usual, the coronavirus is behind it all, and it does not bode well for the race’s long-term health. (Read More…)

By on April 14, 2020

Chip Ganassi Racing officials have confirmed the organization’s split with NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (#42). Tuesday’s announcement comes less than two days after Larson was heard uttering a racial slur during an iRacing event held on Easter Sunday. Chip Ganassi Racing previously decided to suspend the driver without pay while it examined the situation. As that probably focused heavily on the public response, its decision to sever the seven-year relationship is hardly surprising.

While technically guilty of the same behavior every random teen with a gaming headset engages in during online play (until you mute them out of frustration), Larson made the rookie mistake of not being fourteen while also having a racing contract and enough NASCAR wins to be considered high profile. If he plans to keep racing within the sport, he’ll be required to attend sensitivity training. NASCAR has also issued an indefinite suspension, citing violations of the organization’s general procedures and member conduct guidelines.  (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2020

American stock car driver and World of Outlaws Sprint car team owner Kyle Larson was caught uttering a racial slur via a hot mic on Easter Sunday. Larson (#42 in the the NASCAR Cup Series) was participating in an online racing event with other professional drivers, streamed via Twitch and eNASCAR, where he suffered a virtual off. Afterward, it seemed like he was having a difficult time with his headset or internet connection. Larson clearly asks whether or not another driver can hear him before casually tossing in America’s least-favorite racial slur, apparently unaware that he was broadcasting on an open channel.

As you might imagine, the response was swift and savage. By Monday, Chip Ganassi Racing had announced it was suspending Larson without pay while it investigates the situation. NASCAR said it would look into the matter before it decides how to act.  (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2020

On Thursday, NASCAR announced the planned debut of the next-generation stock car is being pushed back until 2022. The new breed was originally expected to take the field at next year’s Daytona 500, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly made that impossible.

“Due to challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the debut of the Next Gen car will be delayed until 2022,” John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, said in a statement. “The decision was made in collaboration with the OEMs and team owners. We will continue to develop the Next Gen car, and a revised testing timeline will be shared when more information is available.” (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

Aston Martin is canceling is mid-engined Valkyrie racer and stalling EV development until 2025 as it reassess both the racing and industry landscapes. The Valkyrie was originally scheduled to commence its racing career in Silverstone this fall, before moving on to the main event — the 24 Hours of Le Mans — in 2021. Now, the company says it will halt development on the racer while it reorganizes under new investor Lawrence Stroll (Red Bull is out) and the Racing Point F1 team.

This appears to leave Toyota as the only big-boy factory team participating in the LM Hypercar division for its introductory season. Despite assurances that factory LMP1 teams had an interest in the class, they haven’t been clamoring to get involved. Peugeot and Glickenhaus are technically still in the running, though neither appear to have expended the same kind of cash as Toyota or Aston and are likewise presumed to pull out before the season starts.

This must be confusing for the FIA, as Hypercar was seen by the World Endurance Championship as an affordable alternative to P1 while also allowing manufacturers to adhere more closely to signature body styles that the prototypes would allow. It was assumed automakers would love this, as it allowed for more direct marketing ins and some overlap with the prototype cars.

(Read More…)

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