Tag: Racing

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 February 19, 2019

While Mazda’s most famous rotary-powered racer is undoubtedly the 787B Group C prototype that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1991, the company spent years fielding the RX-7 in every motorsport event it could qualify for.

Back when the 787 was little more than a twinkle in Nigel Stroud’s eye, Mazda already had RX-based cars running the world’s oldest endurance race. Among these vehicles was the 254i, which served as the culmination of Mazda’s efforts in Le Mans up until 1982 (and was the final RX-7 to run the event). While it didn’t win, it proved that Japan could compete and served as a jumping-off point for the company’s more successful Group C cars.

Unfortunately, it’s customary for race vehicles that don’t manage to take home a trophy to become lost in the sands of time. The two 254i race cars Mazda built were no different — or so it seemed, until the last surviving example resurfaced.  (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2019

Corey LaJoie might not have the most impressive stock car record in motorsport, but he will have the most recognizable car at Daytona 500 later this month. Go Fas Racing, along with its sponsors, have decided that the best livery for the No. 32 Old Spice car is a giant stretched version of its driver’s head. The end result makes those reoccurring dreams about your teeth falling out seem positively tranquil by comparison.

The team documented the process of wrapping the Ford Mustang they’ll be running in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series over the last couple of days. LaJoie’s face resides on the hood and bumper, with the teeth cut out to make an opening for the grille.

While we can’t say whether the new visuals will provide much of an edge on the racetrack, it’s difficult to imagine something scarier coming up behind you in the rearview mirror. Still, we doubt intimidation was on anyone’s mind when they dreamed this monstrosity up.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2019

Volkswagen is currently on a quest to prove electrification is the true path forward for automobiles. However, it’s not doing this by releasing production plug-ins with robust battery ranges. Instead, it’s taking its electric racer to the Nordschleife this summer after achieving total victory at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb last June.

The automaker wants to showcase the might of electric vehicles before it begins releasing them en mass from 2020 onwards. It’s even calling its ID R racer “the sporty ambassador” for an upcoming range of planned EVs.

“After the record on Pikes Peak, the fastest time for electric cars on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is the next big challenge for the ID R,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “A lap record on the Nordschleife is a great accolade for any car, whether a race car or a production car.” (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 November 8, 2018

Toyota has been exceptionally vocal about its desire to spice up the brand and, for the most part, it has delivered. Expressive, sometimes polarizing, designs have begun populating its lineup as company president Akio Toyoda endlessly talks up the merit of sporting vehicles. While other chief executives focus solely on promoting mobility, he’s discussing the importance of building fun-to-drive cars.

The company’s motorsports group, Gazoo Racing (GR), has even started cranking out tuned versions of the brand’s road cars. However, none of them have made it to North America — nor will they. Despite all of Toyoda’s seemingly earnest talk of performance models, the United States hasn’t seen it manifest into anything tangible.

Considering Toyota also decided not to offer GR models in the U.S., and with cost-cutting measures making the 86 coupe a potential candidate for discontinuation, Akio’s grand vision doesn’t look particularly robust in the West.  (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 September 16, 2018

While I throughly enjoy motorsport, my NASCAR fandom has dwindled over the years. It’s not a frequency I’m perpetually tuned into anymore, but I revisit the series regularly to keep tabs on what’s happening. However, when I put on Sunday’s race, I noticed something different about the cars. Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet had a picture of his own face on the side, as did Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota. What the hell was going on?

A few minutes of investigation later, I learned that NASCAR had decided to slap emoji’s on the side of every important vehicle to celebrate the 2018 NASCAR Playoffs. Monster Energy Cup Series race teams have each unveiled customized hashtags and emojis for all 16 of the competing drivers in collaboration with the Race Team Alliance and Twitter. And it’s probably my least favorite marketing gimmick in motorsport’s history. (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2018

Good golly. It sure seems like there’s a bunch of unnecessary high performance cars under development that pass well beyond the limits of most normal people’s purchasing power. Maybe it’s our imagination, but there appears to be some sort of performance car renaissance taking place at the moment.

Throw another one onto the pile. Ligier, a company you’ve probably never heard of unless you’re seriously into vintage Formula One, present-day Le Mans 24 Hours, or French mini cars, is developing a road-going sports car. While it should have an almost semi-reasonable price tag for a boutique model, it’s still going to be more expensive than most people want to pay. Also, like so many of these specialty cars, we’re not going to bet on it spending much time outside of Europe — which would be a tragedy, since this thing sounds absolutely incredible on paper.  (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 17, 2018

In case you thought the Volkswagen I.D. R’s impressive victory at Pikes Peak was a fluke, it managed another one over the weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. On Saturday, Romain Dumas crawled inside the cockpit of the I.D. R and motored it up the hill in a blistering 43.05 seconds — setting a new record for electric vehicles.

The previous record for an EV was set in 2013 by Jonny Cocker, who drove the Lola-Drayson B12 69/EV across the line in an already savage 47.34. If you’re wondering what the all-time course best is, it’s 41.6 seconds — Nick Heidfeld drove a McLaren MP4/13 up the hill back when Goodwood still allowed Formula One cars to participate in the event. Compared to Pikes Peak, Goodwood is an exceptionally short and relatively simple course. But that’s like saying the sun is bright when you compare it to a desk lamp. It’s also unimportant.

The point is they are both stretches of road that allow cars to compete on an even playing field, and the I.D. R once again proved that electric vehicles have placed a target on the back of gas-powered performance.  (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2018

While the returning Toyota Supra should be big news, the endless parade of teasers without any real information has left everyone feeling burned out. We previously announced that the vehicle would debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this week. But Toyota later clarified that the car we would see wouldn’t be the production version and remain camouflaged, resulting in rage-induced nose bleeds at automotive-media outlets across the globe.

Our expectations couldn’t be lower but we still had to check and see if any new information could be gleaned from the event. We definitely got a better look at it but technical specifications remained elusive. We did learn a thing or two, though. (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2018

It’s understandable that an automaker would want to prolong the unveiling of a hotly anticipated model. After all, building suspense is essential when marketing a vehicle that’s exciting but lacks broad appeal. This is why Dodge was so fastidious in its debut of the Hellcat and Demon, parsing out just enough information to keep us fed without ever letting us get full.

By contrast, Toyota’s preliminary marketing of the Supra started with as few details as possible and has continued starving us of all meaningful information. That’s partly because the vehicle is a sister car to the new BMW Z4 — and sharing details of one model means giving away the goods on the other. Despite this, Magna Steyr (tasked with manufacturing both vehicles) isn’t building two identical models with different badges. The Supra’s chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, describes the Supra as a pure sports car where practicality and comfort are almost not considered.

That sounds very exciting, so it was a relief when we learned the car will finally see daylight at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this week. Unfortunately, Toyota clarified on Monday that the vehicle we’ll see wouldn’t be a production vehicle and will remain wrapped in red camouflage.  (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2018

Our fancy-pants Managing Ed recently sampled der neue Jetta, finding it to be a satisfactory machine but opining that the motor lacked punch.

Perhaps the engine in this Jetta will be more to his liking.

(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…)

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