Saturday, September 12, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello topped the times for Brawn GP after the opening free practice session for this weekend's European Grand Prix.
The 37-year-old Barrichello clocked a best time of one minute and 42.460 seconds around the Mediterranean harbour street circuit with 15 minutes remaining on a hot morning in eastern Spain.
Finn Heikki Kovalainen was second fastest for McLaren ahead of his team-mate, defending drivers world champion Lewis Hamilton of Britain, who won his first race of the season at last month's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Championship-leading Briton Jenson Button was fourth in the second Brawn at the conclusion of an eventful morning's action which ended with Barrichello's car struggling with gearbox problems as he went for an even faster lap time.
Button was fastest for a long period during the morning, but ended up six-tenths of a second off Barrichello's pace, but the duo's overall performance suggested that Brawn have rediscovered some of their best form after three races in the doldrums.
German Sebastian Vettel was the top Red Bull driver in fifth position ahead of compatriot Adrian Sutil, who was sixth for the much-improved Force India team.
Japanese Kaazuki Nakajima was seventh for Williams ahead of Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull with two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault and Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari completing the top ten.
The session saw a flurry of incidents, but no serious accidents, as many drivers ran wide over the kerbs on the dusty asphalt circuit.
French debutant Romain Grosjean of Renault was 17th, more than a second slower than team-mate Alonso and veteran comeback driver Italian Luca Badoer, replacing injured Brazilian Felipe Massa for Ferrari, was 20th, two seconds down on Raikkonen.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
It's very grassroots. And it shows.
Each of Mazda's products – from the divine MX-5 to the oft-overlooked CX-7 – embodies everything we want in a vehicle, regardless of size, capacity or utility. They just deliver. Steering, handling, balance – it's all there. And like every other automaker, we know they occasionally leave something on the table, but it never comes at the expense of the car/driver connection. Here's even more evidence: the 2010 Mazdaspeed3.
Like the recently revised Mazda 3, we approached the 'Speed variant with a fair amount of trepidation. Its standard sibling is far and away our favorite compact, and the last Mazdaspeed version proved at least one Japanese automaker could still put out a proper hot hatch without trying to be all things to all people. It was niche, but embraced its status and didn't apologize for it.
When the team began development of the new Mazdaspeed3, there was talk of boosting output to over 300 horsepower and adding all-wheel drive. But as Mazda learned the hard way with the FD RX-7, going overboard with complexity and sending the price into the stratosphere takes its toll on mechanicals and consumers alike. Even so, Mazda looked above and beyond its direct competitors, benchmarking vehicles like the Mitsubishi Evolution IX for steering feel and handling prowess. As you'd expect, the result is evolutionary. But we suspect when current MS3 owners take a spin in the 2010 model, they'll be more than tempted to trade up – assuming they can get past the styling.
If you haven't warmed-up to the Mazda3's new sheetmetal, the 'Speed version won't help matters. Whereas the outgoing model primarily benefited from a more upright, aggressive fascia and a prominent wing (creating a perfect sport compact sleeper), the new version takes the eccentric lines of the revised 3, adds a
Although the new ducting boosts efficiency, output is still rated at 263 hp at 5,500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. However, Mazda engineers confided in us that the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-pot is actually putting out a bit more power. So why isn't it rated higher? Mazda's boffins couldn't elaborate (or give us internal figures), but it came down to the SAE's testing methods. Take that for what it's worth, but color us intrigued... if skeptical.
The redline remains at 6,750 rpm and, like the last model, the engine outruns the turbo at around 6,000 rpm. Forward momentum falls off, but it's not as precipitous as the last MS3, and the additional revs are welcome when you're flying towards a corner and don't want to shift up, only to be forced to immediately downshift before entering a turn. Thankfully, the six-speed manual transmission benefits from a new set of gear ratios that land directly inside the torque curve when short-shifting at the self-imposed six-grand redline.
Mazda is still limiting power in first through third gears based on throttle input and steering angle to quell torque-steer, and while its presence can still be felt, the artificial reigns only manifest when skittering across broken pavement on power and when disabling the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and nailing the throttle in a straight line. If crab-walking was your biggest concern with the last model, it's been addressed and improved, but hardly eliminated. And Mazda admits that they could have done more to reduce the effects, but it would've affected outright performance and they "wanted to keep it a little rough."
Dave Coleman, one of the lead engineers behind the project admitted that one of the primary goals of the new MS3 was to evolve the handling. "The old [Mazdaspeed3] was more of a muscle than a sports car," Coleman told us, "We wanted to bring the handling up to the level of the engine."
With a more rigid chassis to work with, Coleman and the rest of the crew were able to engineer a stiffer suspension that wouldn't affect daily drivability. The geometry remains the same, but everything in between has been upgraded, resulting in a noticeably smoother ride. Those forced to endure the bombed-out roadways of the Midwest probably won't notice, but if your local municipality isn't bankrupt, you'll benefit from the tweaks.
As for the rest of the upgrades, they're relatively minor. The Dunlop SP Sport 2050 tires have grown in width from 215s to 225s and like the standard 3, an electro-hydraulic steering system is employed to provide better feel at speed and ease-up when puttering around the parking lot. Inside, it's essentially standard Mazda3 fare, with the addition of thicker bolsters on the front thrones, red stitching on the seats and steering wheel, aluminum pedals and an LED boost gauge nestled in between the tach and speedo. Did we mention the wonky seat and door card fabric? In keeping with the times and tradition, Mazda is only offering one upgrade – the Tech Package – which includes the undersized Multi Information Display (MID), a Bose Centerpoint surround sound system, six-disc changer, MP3 player connectivity, perimeter alarm and push button start. The Tech pack tacks on an additional $1,895 to the $23,195 base price, which starts just $455 more than the outgoing model.
So... that's a wrap, right? The Mazdaspeed3 is slightly more expensive, benefits from a few substantive modifications, weighs in around 50 pounds heavier than its predecessor and comes clothed in functional love-it-or-hate-it styling. It's not nearly that simple.
Although the gestation of the MS3 was carried out in Japan, most of the drivability developments for the U.S. were done on and around Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. As such, you'd assume the 'Speed would be the perfect daily-driver turned (tuned?) track-tool. It is – to a point.
Around Laguna Seca, the Mazdaspeed3 is exactly what you'd expect: powerful, competent and composed. The steering is sublime, the shifter and gear ratios are beyond reproach and all that torque is delivered in a seamless wave that executes point-to-point track-attacks with ease. It's all incredibly civilized. Understeer comes on smoothly and predictably, allowing a quick lift to bring things back into line, and with that much twist available at nearly any rpm in any gear, mid-corner flubs are replaced with heroic exits. Even torque steer, which you'd assume would necessitate overly measured throttle inputs, isn't an issue. Just squirt and go. It's that simple, but not nearly as entertaining as we expected.
However, leave the track, get on your favorite macadam road and prepared to be amazed. Regardless of the DSC setting, blasting down an undulating stretch of tarmac in the Mazdaspeed3 delivers one of those rare gearhead-affirming experiences each of us craves. Linking bends over pockmarked pavement, the MS3 becomes your surefooted best friend; a trust-worthy confidante that will keep you honest and engaged. The brakes are up to the task, the LSD dolls out the grunt, and finger-tippy steering and rhythmic pedal inputs generate one of the most consistent and rewarding front-wheel driving experiences on the market.
Needless to say, we're smitten all over again. What the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 lacks in on-track exhilaration, it makes up for on the open road. And since that's where most of us spend our time, it's tuned to suit. If you're a dedicated track-addict, your circuit-ready ride awaits you on the weekends. For the days in between, the Mazdaspeed3 fends off the cravings.
News of the cancellation follows tough results for auto shows world-wide. Several automakers skipped out on North American International Auto Show in Detroit, while rumors have persisted that the Tokyo Motor Show will be canceled altogether. In Australia, the Sydney show has been canceled, as well. This is bad news for auto show lovers everywhere (*raises hand*), and we're hoping the trend reverses itself soon.
But, there's no harm in looking.
The MG's peak of popularity in the United States was in the '60s and early '70s, when, in the wake of The Beatles and James Bond, all things British were seen as hip and stylish.
To see a collection of MGs, head over to the Vanderbilt Museum Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the MG car show.
For fans of fancier British roadsters, the Vanderbilt is presenting a Jaguar car show on Sept. 13.
And all-American muscle will be on display Oct. 4 when the annual Corvette show rolls onto the Vanderbilt's grounds.
The museum admission of $7 for adults, $6 for seniors 62 and older includes access to the estate grounds and the car shows. For more information, call 631-854-5555.
Picture Car Warehouse’s movie stars on the auction block, featuring vehicles from Indiana Jones, A-Team, Transformers, Fast& Furious and many more
Last Saturday, August 15th, a big movie props and vehicle auction was held at LA Center Studios. Most of the movie cars came from Picture Car Warehouse, Hollywood’s biggest provider of wheeled heroes, villains, stars and extras. PCW was founded by Ted Moser and has supplied vehicles for hundred of movies and TV shows, including the Fast and Furious franchise, Knight Rider, Grindhouse, XXX, Mad Men, Transformers and Indiana Jones. Up for auction were, among others, the green chopper from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that Megan Fox liked so much, along with the “Barricade” Saleen Mustang and the “Landmine” sandrail, the van from Little Miss Sunshine, some Challengers fromThe Bucket List, the ‘32 hot rod from the latest Indiana Jones, KITT from the TV movie Knight Rider 2000, a pair of humongous H2s from Dragonball , an F-Bomb Camaro from Fast & Furious… and an A-Team van replica! A few cars from other collectors and a lot of props were there as well.
Friday, August 21, 2009
VALENCIA, Spain -- The new US F1 Formula One team has landed YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley as its primary investor for its 2010 debut racing campaign.
"I am thrilled to be a part of America's first Formula One team in more than 40 years," Hurley said in a statement. "Getting in on the ground floor of a project of this size and scope is a tremendous opportunity, and I look forward to helping shape the US F1 vision and corporate strategy for years to come."
Hurley is chief executive of YouTube, the video-sharing Web site that has become a global phenomenon worth $1.65 billion.
Hurley said that he would bring corporate strategy and media planning experience to the team, with video expected to be "a big part of what we do at US F1."
"I see tremendous potential for all sports to integrate more media, more social connections, connect with the fans and build a fan base," he said. "Hopefully we can create compelling content that individuals around the world have an opportunity to view and share, and really feel like they are part of the team."
Charlotte-based US F1 is one of three new teams added to next year's championship to push the starting grid from 20 cars to 26.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
When Jay Leno officially hung up his gloves as a late-night talk show host, the prevailing thought was it was only a matter of time before he ends up in front of the cameras again.
Apparently, the return was sooner than most of us thought. Leno is scheduled to debut a one-hour prime-time show, which is predictably called, ‘The Jay Leno Show’, and being a true pistonhead, Leno is pitching to include an auto-racing event as one of his key segments.
While the format for this segment seems familiar – Leno actually copied it from Top Gear’s ‘Reasonably-Priced Car Challenge’ from which, ironically, he was one of the guest drivers – the ex-late night host is adding his own personal twist into this segment.
He’s calling it the “Green Car Challenge”, which will have celebrities racing around a specially-designed track inside the NBC compound in a – you guessed it – environmentally-friendly car.
When Michael Jackson died, the whole world predictably mourned. News of the King of Pop’s untimely death has also resulted in thousands of tributes from his fans all over the world. One such fan, 18-year old Eric Callisto, paid his respects in a very unconventional way.
The teenager from Indiana is commemorating the life and times of Jacko by designing a Smart car. Callisto created a website where – for a $10 donation – fellow fans can have their names, businesses, or websites, put on the car.
It’s an unusual tribute even for Jackson’s standards, but Callisto says that the idea popped up after seeing the unprecedented grief Jackson’s fans sent out through Twitter. While we can’t fault Callisto for his intentions, it seems like an unusual tribute to a star known for being unconventional. Nevertheless, Callisto is still seeking the support from the Jackson family with the hopes of making his ‘tribute-designed’ Smart Car, the ‘official’ tribute car for Michael Jackson.
In any case, if you’re a Michael Jackson fan and you feel that there’s still something you can do for your fallen idol, you can click on the website below and show your appreciation for the King of Pop by participating in Eric Callisto’s tribute car.
Oops! Richard Hammond did it again! After he almost died in a 280 MPH dragster crash, he was now involved in a new super car crash. This time he was driving a £110,000 Morgan AeroMax supercar.
The incident happened in the village of Gloucestershire where another car braked suddenly. Richard hit the Nissan in front of him. According to a witness to the incident the car’s front was damaged in a pretty bad way.
"Everyone got out and exchanged details and there was some good-humoured banter exchanged by the drivers after they realized it was him." reported an onlooker.
The Aeromaxis is powered by a 4.8 Lliter BMW V8 engine and can hit a top speed of 170 MPH. But it seems that Richard was only able to enjoy his super car just for a few months!
President Obama's homage to NASCAR nation will have to wait.
The president had planned to welcome champion NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson -- and his car -- to the White House today. But Sunday's race in Pennsyvania got postponed a day for rain, and the White House had to change its schedule.
Press secretary Robert Gibbs said the event will be Aug. 19, instead.
Here's a picture of Johnson earlier this year at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
NASCAR has also become a symbol for white, rural voters who are courted by both parties. And given the fact that presidents love to associate with sports champions and other winners, expect the Johnson visit to be re-scheduled fairly soon.
Felipe Massa has told Brazilian television he hopes to return to racing at the Brazilian Grand Prix on 18 October, Autosport magazine reports.
The Ferrari driver, 28, is recovering at home after suffering severe head injuries in a crash during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
"I cannot wait to race again, I hope I can do the Brazilian Grand Prix," he told television channel Globo.
"But it's for the doctors to say. I have to show I can be ready."
Massa's accident, which occurred on 25 July, happened after a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP car hit his helmet.
At first the injuries were described as "life-threatening", and there were fears for his eye sight.
Former Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher was set to come out of retirement to deputise for his friend while he recovered, before a neck injury put paid to the German's comeback plan.
Since then, Massa has made a good recovery and is now back home recuperating.
He will have to undergo a rigorous medical examination at the hands of the International Motorsport Federation (FIA) and also specialist eye check-up before he is allowed behind the wheel of an F1 car.
"I think I am going to do some laps in a go-kart beforehand," Massa added.
"Then I will go to the FIA to do the examinations and get the authorisation to come back to racing."