Tuesday, November 22, 2011 06:00
I like connector ramps, on-ramps, off-ramps, merges, big curves, twisties, switchbacks, anything that allows me to sling myself through a turn at rates beyond the acceptable. My friends call it the slice and dice, and they’re right—driving should be fun. Commuting through traffic on a sticky set of DOT-legal race tires makes it even more fun.
Alright, technically the Dunlop Z1 isn’t a race tire, but it is a tire that folks race with—autocrossers, track-day killers, and canyon carvers alike have called it a marvel. When the Z1 was approved as an SCCA-legal item, it was highly sought after, even more so when the Z1 Star Spec was introduced, a slight redesign of the original Z1 that sorted out the first tire’s tendency to warm up too slowly for short-course autocrossing (and brought an added benefit of slightly improved threshold grip). The point is that the Dunlop Z1, even four-plus years after its release to the American public, is a big-G knife, paws for the wolves in sheep’s traffic.
The Z1’s American availability is a sticky wicket in its own right. Dunlop, as we all remember from race tires in Europe, motorcycles, Le Mans, and so many other bits of awesome from the good old days, is no longer, having been broken up and sold to the Japanese (Sumitomo) and Americans (Goodyear). Fortunately, both parent companies share lots of the development and promotional duties, and different Dunlops pass back and forth between them for availability in the U.S. For example, the Dunlop SportMaxx, a big-sedan Euro-style Autobahn killer (ideal for everything from G8 to M5), is made by the Goodyear Dunlop, while the Direzza DZ101 rice-racer favorite and the slightly related Z1 are made by the Japanese Dunlop (and is at-home with the all-wheel drive and Porsche crowd). Indeed, the Japanese get a few other versions of the Z1 that are even racier than the Z1 Star Spec over here, but at least we have that, because it’s super. More...
Friday, July 22, 2011 08:00
It’s not without irony that the frumpy people from Top Gear—like the joker trolls of the NBA—would capture Icelandic sand and cinder racers (the odd European cousin of American sand drags) flogging their umpteen-horsepower paddle-tired drag rigs across local waterways. What’s that you say? It’s absurd, nothing fits, cats and dogs living together, and these spooky rigs are walking on water (or beating it into submission), making as much sense as Richard Hammond and the clowns from Top Gear being awesome.
Check out the vid below (“Top Gear: Richard Hammond's Iceland Buggy Trip—Top Gear BBC”) and you’ll understand why it's gotten more than a half million hits after it originally aired on the BBC’s Top Gear. Just the audio is worth the trip, in case you have your eyes closed.
These water-sprints are officially nuts, though the good kind. These rigs are set up to run high-vertical volcanic sand and cinder slopes, wearing paddles on all corners powered through solid front and rear axles slung low in short-wheelbased Jeep and Land Rover-sized buggies. These frightening little freaks sport significant powerplants buried in tube-framed chasses stout enough to keep the driver from suffering the injuries usually levied upon folks crazy enough to drive up the inclined sides of extinct cinder cones.
Speaking of crazy, in the case of this video, someone amongst these relatively unanchored fellows decided that their one-ton boggers could walk on water. In essence, they had the tools and the talent and lack of sense of self-preservation to pilot the same sled they hillclimbed across a body of water. In a sense, it’s probably all about keeping the tires spinning faster than the rig was moving… Sure, at some point you run out of rotational velocity, but by then you’ve swallowed so much water from across the hood you’ve probably drowned anyway.
Monday, July 18, 2011 08:00
In the second edition of our experiment in “Gearheads Will Dig It Whether Or Not It Includes a Car,” we’d like to present you with a classic sample of man and machine versus nature: “Train Vs. Snow in Western Iowa.”
It has almost 500,000 hits, and with good reason. It’s quite simply massive mechanical hugeness versus mounds and drifts of nature’s frozen goodness. Tool versus dirt. Hammer versus nail. Saw versus wood. Considering what this freight train does to the mounds of snow, perhaps hunter versus dinner, or barracuda versus trout would be more apropos.
I suspect the engineers in the locomotive blow the air horns while going through big snow so the horns won’t pack up with snow.
The amounts of energy being applied in the span of this video—not the best, as it was shot from someone’s living room—are staggering. Your typical freight train weighs millions of pounds, and snow is deceptively heavy, especially the standard-issue 10-20-foot drifty stuff that piles up in the Midwest after big weather followed by big winter winds. Take a hard look at the capture, and you’ll see the locomotive and its herd of boxcars dive into mountains of white stuff, and the subsequent explosions (there we go with the explosions again) resulting from its unstoppable force being exerted upon the stubbornly gravity-bound immovable object are quite spectacular.
The entertaining post-video comments add to the charm of this video, as the standard Eastern versus Western Iowa-bashing gets a little ribalderous, plus bacon and Chuck Norris.
Monday, July 11, 2011 08:00
In a happy moment of gearhead awesomeness, we’re going to veer away from the straight up automotive video ecstasy to something more esoteric. It’s a few bits of viewing that, although not strictly automotive, are just the kind of actions that gearheads looooove. Big explosions, massive destruction, incredible levels of power being delivered in huge doses that anybody who adores mechanical awesomeness and force-unreckoned can embrace.
For starters, let’s get to explosions. We’re not talking about moron-with-a-lighter or nutjob-with-a-rifle-and-a-propane-tank (though YouTube’s full of them), but military-grade explosions. Massive, tactical force-equalizing super-destructive rocket versus tank explosions. The best part, outside the massive destruction, is that the rocket is named the Bill.
It’s a Bill 2, to be specific, an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) built by the Swedish firm Bofors, who has made lots of nice weapons in their time. And, note, this is a test video, so the tank is an old remote-controlled Centurion (so it says – we’re not tank experts here). And as cool as tanks are, the grade of explosion with its surface-of-the-sun molten burndown of the tank, renders us much in awe. More...
Friday, June 10, 2011 08:00
We’ve held forth on the wonders of bubba engineering, but it’s not all horseshoes and hand grenades… Some of these folks build savage metal wonderment that’s completely awesome because the devastation is low-pro, but still just plain ridiculous.
Along that vein, we bring you Volvette in a vid called “Full Length Volvette Intoduction from The Anti Team.”
To be frank (and Tom, Dick and Harry), that the guys from the Anti Team are rednecks is a reach, and we didn’t check the plates closely, but the vibe suits a nice rebel interpretation of a Volvo seven-series wagon. Sedate, sporty, high-speed stable in the European tradition, now with somewhere north of 500 hp through the right parts—late-model LS1 with a couple T4s hanging off it, built T-56, and the car’s caged (smart, considering what these guys do with it). Seems like a fitting place for a twin-turbo’d LS1, eh? Or did he say LS2? Missed it—hard to hear you when you’re outrunning an R1 on the freeway in a Volvo station wagon. More...