Wednesday, December 7, 2011 01:46
If you’re a teenager and you’d rather sit behind the wheel than in front of a computer, you might be an endangered species. That’s because the people who think about these things have discovered that American teenagers would rather spend their time and money chatting online with their friends instead of driving to their houses to see them IRL, which stands for “in real life”, and if you already knew that, you might be among the growing majority.
Ever since the car was invented it’s been the dream of just about every teenager to get a driver’s license and a car, not necessarily in that order. But a survey revealed that almost half of today’s 18-to-24-year-olds would choose internet access over owning a car. Among baby boomers, who grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s, only 15 percent would take a keyboard over an ignition key. The other 85 percent were probably not the cool kids in high school.
Last year only 4 percent of people 19 and under had driver’s licenses, the lowest percentage since 1978. There’s speculation that the decline in due in large part to tougher license tests and graduated licenses requiring drivers under 16 to be accompanied by a licensed driver 21 or older––seriously, what’s less cool than having your big sister in the shotgun seat nagging you about left turns?––but the effect of social networks, high gas prices, and the poor job market can’t be dismissed, either.
Monday, December 5, 2011 05:01
In Australia, a “hoon” is someone who drives too fast and too noisily, and generally behaves in an antisocial way behind the wheel. Ken Block would be a hoon if he weren’t such a good one. Instead, he’s a professional rally driver.
Block recently wrapped up his 2011 Gymkhana World, during which he hooned his way into the hearts of fans in Vienna, Austria; Melbourne, Australia; and Los Angeles.
This video is a taste of the action from those events, crammed into six minutes. Consider it an appetizer for the 2012 tour, which Block says will make the 2011 tour look like your grandpa skidding his Buick on a patch of ice by comparison.
Friday, December 2, 2011 12:39
Video games aren’t just toys any more––professional race drivers use the increasingly sophisticated simulations of real tracks to train for races and sharpen their reflexes. But it’s a pretty good bet you won’t find a Formula 1 driver slumped in a beanbag chair while he hot-laps a virtual Monaco. If that’s where you sit when you play racing video games, you need to upgrade to the Playseat.
The Playseat isn’t just a chair, it’s a racing simulation cockpit, complete with a seat reclined to the correct angle for each type of racing, a steering column angled correctly with your choice of steering wheels, and a pedal box.
The Playseat is compatible with digital driving steering wheels from MOMO, Logitech, and ForceGT, works right out of the box with PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii gaming systems. The only drawback is that so far it’s available only in Europe. But if you really want to race, either digitally or for real, an ocean won’t stop you from getting one.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 12:14
There was a time when you could really get the job done in the Baja 1000 with a fiberglass-bodied dune buggy powered by a 1600cc VW engine pumping out a whopping 60 horsepower. These days, however, competitors in the famous off-road race are pulling out all the stops, including Mopar, which unholstered its new V-10 competition off-road race engine and scored the win at the 44th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
The 800-horsepower V-10 Competition Race Engine for drag racing debuted at the 2011 SEMA show in Las Vegas. The drag-race engine spawned an off-road version that Kent Kroeker, owner of Kroeker Off-Road Engineering, shoehorned into a Ram 1500. This potent combination propelled Kroeker and his co-driver Alan Roach nearly 700 miles through the rugged desert of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in just over 20 hours to bag the Class 8 victory. Kroeker began the race and drove through the San Felipe loop, with Roach then taking the wheel for the remainder of the distance.
“Winning the Baja 1000 means laser-focused excellence that can’t be demonstrated any other way,” said Kroeker. “The performance of the new Mopar V-10 was superb. We were the only vehicle in the Baja 1000 using Mopar power. Mopar engineers sculpted its characteristics around my description of what is needed to win in long-distance desert racing.”
The Class 8 division that Kroeker and Roach competed in with the Mopar V-10 is comprised of full-size, two-wheel-drive trucks. Kroeker and his team put the Ram 1500 for Baja together in six weeks, and were the only team in the race using Mopar power, although it’s a good bet they won’t be the only one next year.
Monday, November 28, 2011 11:11
If you want something done right you have to do it yourself––or at least help the guy who’s doing it. That’s the idea behind the a new program that lets you help assemble your new LS7 or LS9 crate engine at GM’s Performance Build Center.
Even though you’re supplying some of the labor, the buy-in isn’t cheap––the LS7 has an MSRP of $22,756.10, and the LS9 has an MSRP of $32,050––but you’re getting 505 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque in the naturally aspirated LS7 and 638/604 in the supercharged LS9.
The price of the engine also includes a trip to GM’s unique Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, where you’ll join a specially trained engine builder to assist in the start-to-finish assembly of your engine, from installing the crankshaft in the cylinder block to topping off the engine with its intake system. In the case of the LS9, it also means installing the supercharger assembly. More...