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Dec 262010
 

If you’ve played any sort of auto racing game, be it any in the Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo franchise, watched Formula 1 or DTM or just an automotive history buff in general, the name Nurburgring should speak quite loudly without saying a word. One of the most sacred and hallowed motorsports venues in the world – next to Spa-Francorchamps, Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Silverstone – the Ring and its famous Nordschleife represent a purity that is motorsport. It seems, however, that things have been headed in the wrong direction for the Ring and things aren’t looking any brighter at the moment:

From SaveTheRing.org’s website:

From 2007 – 2009 the German government built a huge Leisure Park at the Nürburgring. It is based on fake visitor numbers, oversized and badly executed. Most of the time it is an empty ghost town. Once promised as private investment, it is now based on a debt of 350+ million EUR public money.

Instead of pulling the plug they rented the park – including both race tracks – to exactly the same privateers (Kai Richter, Jörg Lindner), who were driving forces behind the Leisure Park’s initial private setup.

Without Racing experience they are since experimenting with events completely unrelated to Motorsport (German Volksmusik for example, another one here) – all under the iconic “Nürburgring” brand name.

They now want Nordschleife to pay for the huge losses of “NüroDisney”: record prices and bundled packages for tourist drives plus a 5 times increase for the automotive industry in rent for their prototype testing sessions.

It’s quite obvious to us at RevdCars.net that those who don’t understand nor have the passion for all things automotive and motorsports should stay the hell out of the Ring. Sure, money needs to be made. You can’t continue operating in the red in your P&L. We understand. But we firmly believe you CAN combine financial sensibility with respect for the Ring or any other motorsports venue.

For more information on how YOU can help Save the Ring, visit their website by clicking here.

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Jun 042010
 


I really liked Sebastian Vettel. When he first burst onto the scene, everyone said he had the talent to become world champion. He was a young guy with big dreams and a personality that was animated and fun. He always had a smile in front of the cameras and was a welcome departure from robots like Kimi Raikkonen. I was cheering him on when he took his first victory as a driver at Monza in rain soaked conditions.

Fast forward to 2010. At the Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel veers right into the path of his team mate, Mark Webber, causing a crash that takes out both cars. Webber was able to continue and get a podium but he was all but assured 1st place up to this point. After he gets out of his race car, Vettel makes the above gesture as he makes his way pack to the paddock. Replay after replay shows that there was no steering movement in Webber’s cockpit. Vettel says he was ahead but he clearly wasn’t. However you put it, it was Vettel’s mistake.

Red Bull Racing declares that it was Webber’s mistake. The team management hug and pat Vettel on the back – even though Seb caused the crash. What is this? Kindergarten? Others within the team declare Webber should have let Vettel pass him – where they got this idea is unknown, but when do you just let someone past because he wants to? This is racing. That doesn’t happen. Then based on the backlash by the F1 fanbase force their hand, with team principal declaring it a “racing incident” and even force the two to take what I deem as an incredibly uncomfortable photo, for they have “buried the hatchet.”

What hatchet? It’s clear Vettel screwed up due to his inflated ego (no doubt inflated further by the team) and / or a stupid rookie mistake… except Vettel is no rookie. He’s a third year professional in an organization at the highest form of motorsport and they currently have the fastest car. It’s also clear that Mark Webber is getting a bum deal. He’s been driving at his peak, taking home the victory at Spain and Monaco. Is this how you treat a driver who’s delivering the goods?

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Apr 182010
 

In the upper reaches of motorsports, teams are pretty clear about who they are. Heck, even HRT (Hispania Racing Team, formerly Campos) in F1 is never misunderstood beyond what they are – a newcomer struggling to catch up to everyone and anyone as they had absolutely no pre-season testing. But when a team makes a blatant move to confuse the hell out of everyone, I feel like it’s worth speaking about.

I attended the qualifying session for the IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix earlier today. A festive event for sure with a decent turnaround for a non-race day. Then I saw it whizz by while standing around in the pits. Takuma Sato in the KV Racing… umm… Lotus… powered by Honda. What the heck is going on? The livery sure looked like that you would find in the Lotus F1 car, but this isn’t Formula 1 for starters.

So how does this association make any sense whatsoever? Let’s trace things back a bit…

Takuma Sato was basically a Honda boy from day 1. He went to a driving school sponsored by Honda. His debut was in the former BAR-Honda F1 squad. Then he was relegated to the Super Aguri F1 team (still powered by a Honda). All in all, it makes all the sense that he would find a seat in a spec series powered by a Honda engine. Fine. But what does Lotus have to do with it all? It’s now a Malaysian-owned car company (parent company = Proton) which uses Toyota engines in their road cars such as the Elise, Exige and Evora. KV Racing is owned by an Aussie and an American who is a former CART champion. They’re racing on American soil but the title sponsor is a Japanese car company (Toyota). How does this make any sense whatsoever when Lotus has NOTHING to do with the driver, the racing series, the chassis (Dallara), the team nor the engine manufacturer.

To summarize, a Japanese driver “brought up” by a Japanese car manufacturer who was kicked out of a primarily European racing series racing in an American series for a team owned by an Aussie and an American running an Italian chassis powered by a Japanese engine at a race title sponsored by a competing Japanese manufacturer wearing the colors and brand of a Malaysian auto maker that has absolutely nothing to do with them. Phew. What a mouthful.

Seriously, who / what the hell are you KV Racing / Takuma Sato?

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Dec 132009
 

Michael Schumacher1

Dear Michael,

You will always be a legend and probably one of the best we have ever seen in motorsports (although we contend that Ayrton Senna was THE best). With that being said, staging a comeback at this point in your life seems trivial at best and we don’t feel it’s the best move for Formula 1. 2009 was a pretty crazy year, with teams dropping out at the end of it all, Renault “convicted” of shady practices and several drivers really putting the best foot forward. All this makes us want to forget this past season and really look forward to 2010, when we can start fresh. What’s there to look forward to?

  • Jenson vs. Lewis
  • Fernando at Ferrari (and probably a Fred vs. Massa battle)
  • All the new F1 teams – Campos, Virgin, Lotus, USF1
  • No refueling

Does F1 really need the distraction that is Michael Schumacher? Wouldn’t the empty seat at Mercedes, formerly Brawn, be better served by a younger driver who has the talent but may not have had an adequate car to shine? Coming back to try to win again seems very much like teams who never had real passion for racing but doing it for the sake of doing and creating a storyline with which to sell cars. I’m sure your wife and kids would appreciate you staying retired as well.

Although Bernie would probably love to see you come back to sell tickets, that’s not in the spirit of racing, is it? Please give us an opportunity to remember you as the 7-time World Champion with countless records under your belt, not as a Mickey Rourke-like wrestler pining for a last bit of glory.

Your Sincerely,
RevdCars.net

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Nov 072009
 

“Some car companies sell cars so they can go racing, while others go racing so they can sell cars.”

Not too far in the distant past, I picked up on this rather relevant comment about car companies and motorsports. It’s all the more I bring this up now, as Panasonic Toyota F1 announced yesterday that they are withdrawing from Formula 1 with immediate effect. 500+ employees at the team factory in Cologne are going to be out of a job unless they find work elsewhere in racing. The team’s suppliers are losing out on revenue as there’s one less customer to sell to. And their 2009 drivers, Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayash, will have to look elsewhere for a drive in 2010. But I digress. This isn’t about people losing their jobs. This is about how one car company perceives racing versus another.

The oldest team in Formula 1, Ferrari, has been there from the very beginning. You could even argue that even though the first F1 race was held in the UK, the spirit of it all really started at Maranello. Ferrari has always been about racing. And Enzo sold cars so that he could go racing. And racing helped create probably the most desired car brand in the world today, but racing was always at the center of it all. A successful car building operation was merely the instrument through which the expense of racing could be paid for.

You have the billionaires, wanna-be billionaires (the Grand Prix Autopolis immediately comes to mind) and / or racing fanatics who want to feed their ego and / or fulfill a lifelong dream of owning an F1 team. Eurobrun, Leyton House, March, Larousse, Tyrrell, Brabham, Spyker, Minardi and many others have come and gone. A few had some success. A few were dedicated and helped bring many good drivers into the sport (Minardi, for example, provided maiden drives to Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber) Others were permanent backmarkers who couldn’t buy a ticket out of pre-qualifying.

Then you have the behemoth car builders with billions to spend and figure Formula 1 would be a wise investment in building their brand on a global scale. Ford came and went with success (HB engines that powered one Michael Schumacher to a driver’s title in the Benetton); Jaguar was a leftover from the Ford days; Lamborghini powered the Larousse for a while, but they were backmarkers; Yamaha powered the Brabham, but yet again another backmarker; and so on.

Honda was a raving success entering the sport in the 60s, then with Piquet at the wheels of the Lotus-Honda, then with Senna & Prost at the wheels of the McLaren-Honda. Then they left the sport with multiple driver’s and constructor’s titles in their hands. Credit Soichiro Honda-san for that one. He was a racing fanatic. And their F1 efforts gave birth to VTEC, which everyone in their 20s and 30s knows about. Honda back then went racing because it wanted to, not because they wanted to sell cars.

Honda returned to F1 with BAT, which then became BAR Honda, then became Honda F1. This wasn’t the Honda we knew. This was a Honda focused on increasing market share. This was a Honda that went racing to sell cars. Honda-san must have turned in his grave.

Which brings us to Toyota. A company that became the #1 car brand in America, as US made brands quickly lost their luster. They were selling cars like there was no tomorrow. They had money to burn. So they entered Formula 1, spending what is reportely over $500 million on their F1 program. And they kept spending. But never won a race. Their driver choices were at times questionable. But they kept at it as long as the money was there. But when the recent global economic meltdown happened, they saw their compatriot Honda leave the sport because they couldn’t afford it anymore. So they questioned whether they should stay. And inevitably left the sport. Dwindling car sales couldn’t support the habit anymore.

This all begs a number of questions – did Toyota believe they could win races and championships by throwing money at it? Did they sell cars to go racing or was it the other way around? – I tend to believe it was the former. Was it just an ego play? No way to know for sure unless you’re deep within the industrial complex that is Toyota.

Whatever the reason may be, I’m still glad there are companies like Ferrari that stands by its tradition of racing to win. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t be worth watching anymore.

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May 262009
 

Daniel Lewis

I think this is the sweetest wine bottle I’ve ever seen. I don’t really care what it tastes like. What I do know is that I want a bottle of this in my house. After searching through Google, it was pretty hard for me to find a price (~$70), and I still haven’t found a place where I could buy this bad boy.

Neil Ashmead GTS

Neil Ashmead GTS
bottle3

“Elderton’s Neil Ashmead GTS 2008 Grand Tourer Shiraz is a tribute wine who’s packaging celebrates the life and loves of the late Neil Ashmead, a passionate South Australian wine man who had a lust for life and a love of fast cars.

Playing on Neil’s passions and reflecting his outgoing personality, the design pays homage to the Holden GTS – complete with go-fast stripes, shark gills and topped with a 6-speed gear stick. A winner’s wreath neck-label completes the package.” TheDieline.com

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May 082009
 

Check out this awesome video of Lamborghini’s Super Trofeo GTR at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy. Here are some quick facts about this Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 modified for the track:

Cost: ~$260,000.00 USD
Weight: ~2800 lbs.
Engine: 5.2 Liter V10
Horsepower: 570

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