Thursday, May 26, 2011 08:00
NASCAR’s resident brat Kyle Busch did it this time. He got busted for doing 128 mph in a 45, a very serious infraction in North Carolina. The state can yank your license for 15 over the speed limit. Maybe Busch was listening to the Joe Walsh song about his Maserati doing 185, or maybe he just had the windows down listening to the V-10 engine of the fly yellow Lexus LFA scream through the eight-speed gearbox. This Lexus sounds like a Formula 1 car at redline.
128 mph to Busch is nothing…a tick or two faster than a pace lap at Charlotte Motor Speedway. No doubt the eyeballs of the North Carolina State trooper got REAL big when his radar gun lit up with that number. He probably hiked up his sharply pressed trooper pants with the sporty black stripe…and put his Smokey Bear hat on extra straight as he walked up to his radar quarry. It probably didn’t surprise him that the driver knew a thing or two about going fast.
Any real car guy probably can recall a time when a country road and a willing hot rod beckoned you to put the hammer down…hard. I had a much modified Volkswagen Scirocco that was happiest at triple digit speeds. The howl of two Weber side draft carburetors was music to my ears. That and, I know this will date me, the music of Mannheim Steamroller became positively symphonic at 125. The view over the hood was spectacular at 5:00AM with the sun just starting to light up the dark blue dawn sky. It was heavenly.
The only gripe I have is the fact that Busch was allowed to drive off on the promise he would show up in court at the appointed time and date. Normal guys like you and me would have been escorted to the back seat of their “no contest” Hemi Charger for a ride to the hoosegow—and our prized ride loaded onto a rollback, perhaps never to be seen or driven again.
Friday, March 25, 2011 06:19
Did you ever wish you could put someone in the fourth row of seats despite your car only having two?
Have you considered tipping a policeman for not giving you ticket?
What would happen if you went to England and drove on the wrong side of the road, and other motorists thought it was a good idea?
What if merging traffic adhered to the zipper rule?
Would bicyclists be more polite to drivers if they got pulled over more often?
How would you behave if automotive glass weren’t soundproof? How would others react if you didn’t know?
How much should flamboyant drivers be taxed for their bling? More...
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 05:31
“It’s a sign,” old folks used to say when something they witnessed seemed to predict the future. “It’s a sign” that electric cars are on their way to being fully embraced when all-electric cars start showing up at the dragstrip. Those who hot-rod electric cars are what marketing folks call “early adopters” and average people call “nuts,” “super nerds,” or “whackos.” Versions of those names where applied to people who stuffed V8s into Model T chassis back in the 1940s. (Somehow, those who put V8s into 3 Series BMWs or overly shortened the suspension springs of Hondas earned the more respectable-sounding moniker of “tuner.”)
Someone who would build a street-legal electric drag racer capable of running a quarter mile in 10.3 seconds at just over 120 mph is far more of an early adopter (and a car guy) than the Ed Begley Jr. types who acquire, but don’t often drive, a Prius, Leaf or Volt.
John Wayland has converted a 1972 Datsun 1200 Coupe into what he calls the “world’s quickest street-legal car.” (Wayland calls himself “Plasma Boy.” Ladies, that’s a pretty good indication he’s single.)
A video of Plasma Boy’s racing exploits shows him racing—and beating—Corvettes and BMWs among others. One of Wayland’s advantages is that, like every electric car, his makes maximum torque at zero rpm. Combined with the made-for-drag-racing tires, that means the White Zombie launches like a real drag racer every time. It helps that his opponents in the video have the reaction times and shifting skills of cannabis-browsing koalas. (Since the video, a switch to lighter and more potent lithium-ion batteries has allowed Wayland’s car to run much faster.) More...
Friday, February 4, 2011 05:46
If you’re as picky as I am about your automotive artwork, here’s a place that will ameliorate some of your issues. My personal auto artwork demands illustrates my narcissism: Unless I’m behind the wheel, I hang no photos of racecars—or any cars—on my walls. To me that would be like a doctor displaying a diploma he didn’t earn. Even model cars are miniatures of ones I’ve driven.
My only piece of automobilia that’s not directly associated with me is an Offenhauser connecting rod from a ’73 to ’75 Penske Indy car. It was given to me by a former Penske mechanic. I don’t think you need to know any more.
If you’re similarly afflicted, here’s an answer: Auto artwork created especially for you. Start at etsy.com, an ecommerce site for vintage and handmade items.
My daughter went to etsy knowing my first vehicle was a 1959 Ford F-100 pickup. The pickup, a former Coca-Cola truck, suffered a thrown rod in its 292 V8. Then my brothers shot it. “It was there and we had guns,” they said. Southerners need no more explanation. Yankees: I suspect amber-colored liquid was also involved.
Since there’s nothing left of the actual truck, my daughter did some creative searching on etsy.com. She came up with Starling Ink, which describes itself as selling “recycled decor.” The company makes old hubcaps into clocks, bird feeders and more.
My daughter asked if they could find a hubcap from a ’59 F-100. One without 5.56mm holes in it, preferably. And turn it into a clock. Yes they could. And I was given the best gift I’ve ever received.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 05:22
If you’re not exactly sure of your sister’s husband’s name, but can remember precisely how to drive corners on racetracks that no longer exist, you might be a real car guy (and a racer). (Steven, I’m only kidding.)
I recently discovered a youtube video featuring in-car footage from Continental Divide Raceway, which used to be south of Castle Rock, Colorado. About 20 years ago it was bulldozed for to make room for McMansions. A good feeling for Turn One shows up at about 2:40 and 4:50 in the video.
CDR was almost Road America West, except with spectacular views of the Rockies. Its road course featured a half-mile-plus straightaway that was also used as a drag strip. And for a short moment, it jumped up on a half-mile oval. At 2.8 miles with numerous elevations changes, it was a challenge to memorize all the turns. But Turn One I’ll never forget.
Turn One was almost completely blind: It was like stepping off a cliff and praying that God hadn’t moved that hidden ledge six feet below the canyon rim. My Alfa Romeo Spider was running somewhere near its top speed as it approached the corner. The Turn was taken with my right foot flat to the floor—if I did it right. More...