Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Great Quotes from Racing

The ever popular Murray Walker:

Murray: "And look at the flames coming from the back of Berger's Mclaren"
James: "Actually Murray, they're not flames, it's the safety light"

Monday, January 30, 2006

If yer hungry....eat yer import!

Yesterday Dorri made a post about the Ford truck plant in Dearborn making employees who drive off makes park across the street. I was intrigued to read the reply from a reader who is obviously a dyed in the wool Ford fan. As one who works in the retail side of the car industry, I just HAD to comment on this!
First of all, I grew up in a Chrysler household, so when i went to work in a dealership, it made sense that I should work in a Chrysler store. Guess what I discovered... their cars were poor excuses for automobiles and it felt so wrong taking peoples money for repairing this junk that I moved to a european import store. When my wife & I bought our first new car, we bought Japanese. My father was horrified. Over the next few years however, he saw how reliable the car was, even in the face of all the abuse I put it through. As consumers, we found that our money was better spent on an import (built in Ontario) than it was on a "domestic" car.

Now that I've spent many years in the industry, I've learned a few things about the way the car world works & I can make a few educated observations.

1 - criticise a "domestic" car and union workers all over freak out!
2 - when "domestic" content is counted, many "imports" have higher North American content than almost all "domestic" cars!
3 - having worked for European, Japanese & "domestic" makes, the "imports" are almost always vastly superior cars in the long run that hold their value much better.
4 - when Toyota, Honda, Nissan & Hyundai all design & build vehicles IN North America, what makes them less domestic than the crap that "domestic" manufacturers try to pass off on the public?

Number 5 may be the biggest one!

The quality of a car isn't determined by the guys & girls on the line, but rather by the ACCOUNTANTS who determine how much money the designers are allowed to spend on design and materials. The line workers build the best product they can, with the raw materials given to them by the accountants!

The type of cars driven by the employee has nothing to do with the quality of vehicle he builds, nor with the pride in which he builds it.

What can the "domestics" do to regain market share? They can LET their guys build cars with better materials, that will last longer and feel new for more than the first year!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

1965 Lemans 24 hr program

A year or so ago I was very lucky to receive a gift from a close family friend. Sarge Ranta has a long, interesting motorsports history that has included spectating at a good many of the events that make up our racing history. Along the way, he has collected programs, entry tickets and magazines and has kept them in immaculate condition. I've decided that The Garage would be a perfect place to share some of these wonderful treasures.

The program cover above is for the 1965 Lemans 24 hr race. Tucked away inside are an entry ticket, time comparison sheets & a colour track map. The entry list has all the legends of motorsport Miles, Bondurant, Surtees, Amon, Ginther, Gurney and cars from Shelby American, Ferrari, Porsche, Ford and more. Of course there is the winners Jochen Rindt & Masten Gregory with their Ferrari 275LM.

Over the next few months, I'll post more images. I have the program rom the 1964 British Grand Prix, a bunch of US & Canadian Grand Prix and come to think of it I've got some pretty cool programs of my own from the early eighties.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Lotus Elise is coming to Canada

The folks at John Scotti Motors in Montreal have made it happen. They have done all the work needed to get the Lotus Elise legal for the Canadian market. This lightweight, mid engined sports car is powered by a 190 hp 1796 cc 4 cylinder made by Toyota, which should deliver uncharacteristic reliability from a British performance car. While 190 hp may not seem overwhelming in today's world, in this case it is more than enough to propel the 1984 lb Elise to 60 mph in only 4.7 seconds! Thanks to it's light weight, low center of gravity and near perfect balance offered by the mid engine placement, the Elise is said to handle like a formula car.

Now if i can just get my hands on one for an afternoon...

Friday, January 27, 2006

And God created.....


Now these things aren't new, but I've just always thought they were a bit gimmicky, so I've never actually turned them on. This morning, just for kicks I decided to give it a shot in the 2006 Nissan Maxima I'm driving this week. All I can say is....WOW! This feature should be required equipment on ALL cars. Why you ask? Well, it feels so nice & cozy that it forces you to actually keep both hands on the wheel at all times. Just imagine how much safer our roads would be if everyone kept their hands on the wheel where they belonged.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Honda kills the Honda Michelin Series

The Toronto Star has reported that the Honda Michelin Series has been cancelled for 2006. Citing poor field sizes and poor economics. It seems they had expected fields of 30 plus cars and were disappointed when this did not happen.

Now normally, I'm a pretty positive person, especially when it comes to an exciting new racing series. In this case though, I've gotta say...give your head a shake! The racing community in Ontario had just come off a failed single marque series, with a large number of great little Nissan Sentras for sale. All these folks had just dropped a bunch of money to build & run these cars. Who exactly did they think was going to line up to buy another production race car and sit back & wait for the series to go away again?

Also, having watched a couple of track sessions, I came away feeling bored! Whatever happened to the field of screaming bees that made up the legendary Honda Michelin of the 80's & 90's? I know that Honda was afraid of feeding the street racer image, but let's face it. Race cars need to be heard to be cool!

It's a shame that the series wasn't put together at a better time, with a stronger commitment from Honda!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New award from AJAC

Those crazy guys and girls at AJAC just can't leave things well enough alone. They just loved one car so much that they had to create a new category because it lost the sports car category due to price! Wimps!
The Most Coveted award goes to : 2006 Corvette Z06

Ok, so I haven't driven one. I'm sure it rocks, but....

Why can't these morons have the testicular fortitude to say "it cost to much for our points structure, so it loses!"

AJAC Car Of The Year Awards

Each year the countryside east of Belleville Ontario is invaded by a bunch a journalists & a fleet of contenders for the annual car of the year awards. The vehicles are tested on the country roads and the racing surface at Shannonville. This years category winners are:

Best new economy car Honda Civic sedan
Best new family car(under $35,000) Hyundai Sonata GLS
Best new family car (over $35,000) Hyundai Azera
Best new luxury/prestige car BMW 5 Series Touring
Best new sports sedan BMW 3 Series
Best new sports car Honda Civic si coupe
Best new sport utility vehicle Mercedes-Benz M-class
Best new pick-up Honda Ridgeline
Best new multipurpose family vehicle Mazda 5
Best new modern muscle car Dodge Magnum SRT8

The overall Car of the year winner will be announced on February 16th at the opening of the 2006 Canadian International Autoshow

Monday, January 23, 2006

From the archives: The Red Head

As a very young boy, I had the good fortune to have parents who spent a lot of time traveling Austria, scoping out new destinations for their ski travel business. I have fond memories of riding through the Tyrolean countryside in my father’s Ferrari Dino. I remember the distinctive pattern stitched into the leather, the signature polished open gate shifter and of course, the bright red paint. I remember traveling through small villages, where everyone would stop and stare at the sight of the little Italian sports car racing through the narrow streets. More that anything, I remember the sound. The magic music that only a Ferrari can make, reverberating off the mountains as we snaked along tight twisty roads. When the road became a tunnel, through the mountain, the sound was delightfully deafening. The kind of sound that burns into the memory of a small boy and remains vivid well into adulthood.

As exciting as a day in the real world of the car business may seem to some, it really can be a drag to one who makes it their daily grind. So when the offer came to sneak out and go shopping for a supercar, I jumped at the chance. My friend had recently sold his pristine 1989 Ferrari 328 and has been lusting after another Ferrari of the same era. Testa Rossa. The name means many things to many different people. To some it is an Italian vineyard. To others, the literal translation, Red Head, refers to a lovely lady. But to the car lover, it can only mean one thing. FERRARI. While not quite as curvaceous as the classic racing model from the Fifties, the chiselled Testa of the late eighties was the pinnacle of Ferrari’s road going cars of the era.

A short trip into Downtown Toronto, just beyond the shadow of Sky dome, we arrived at the rear entrance of a non-descript warehouse. Through the door was a temple to automotive excellence. The lobby of the garage was stark, with high ceilings and pale walls. It felt like some sort of industrial art gallery, just teasing the visitor with glimpses of the automotive treasures that lay beyond. There were Ferrari’s everywhere, from the early seventies right up to the current models. There was the newest Diablo, the Viper GTS, a couple of older Porsches and even a really cool Lambo truck that looked like a Hummer on steroids. Sitting side by side were a pair of Testa Rossas, both the traditional Ferrari red.

This was the first time I had really paid attention to one of these cars up close. I was here to inspect the car, to look for any obvious flaws that an excited car guy might overlook. What I found was a work of art that definitely had the most attention paid to the mechanical details and not the finished product. The car was shod with massive, modern eighteen inch alloy wheels, making the car look much tougher than the original sixteens. The interior was immaculate, but then who could see past that shift gate. Painstakingly polished aluminum staring up at me, what else matters? I begin to feel like I’m regressing. Upon closer inspection, I was astonished to find the fit and the fit and finish is horrible by today’s standards. Almost all panels that aren’t visible from the outside are slathered in flat black paint that faintly conceals grinding marks and rough edges. Once you look past that to the important stuff though, this machine is all racecar engineering. From the meticulous welds on the tubular frame to the wonderful red crinkle finish on those big rocker covers, everything about this Red Head screams for speed. The conservative factory exhaust has been replaced by Tubi pipes that curl from the cylinder head to the sharp polished tips that exit below the rear of the car.

A turn of the ignition created a telltale whirring noise from the mechanical fuel pump, the starter engages and the flat twelve engine comes to life. This car is loud. Even at a cold idle, the great Tubi pipes do nothing to quiet the big engine. As the engine heats up, the throttle is blipped a few times and the shop fills with the ripping sounds of a Grand Prix descendant. The car is as loud as any racecar, but the sound is like a mechanical symphony. It’s easy to imagine this magnificent beast cruising through the mountains, with it’s engine note reverberating off the high walls of each corner and down through the valleys, announcing it’s approach into each village...

I’m brought back to the present when the beast is put to sleep. Suddenly the shop is quiet, except for the ringing in my ears. When asked what I think, I’m not terribly objective. I’m under the Ferrari spell, 5 years old again.

I can’t wait till spring arrives and the car’s new owner can pull back the soft cover and unleash the crimson beast for the first time. I wonder if He’ll let me drive?

This story was originally written in 2003 for racerchicks.com
I never did drive the Testa!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Challenger

Dodge Challenger as driven by Sam Posey

New Challenger Concept

The Camaro

New Camaro Concept

The Famous Penske Sunoco Camaro driven by Mark Donohue

The Mustang

Vintage Mustang Trans Am racer

Retro look Mustang GT500 Concept

A thought about Trans Am racing

Hey Mr. Gentilozzi..... I've got an idea that may just revitalize Trans Am! Why not go back to the grassroots history? Just think, the North American series with the most history needs something new & a bit of history may be just the thing.

For those who aren't old enough to remember, Trans Am started out with production based cars that were tuned for performance. They raced the big v8 cars like the Camaro/Firebird, Mustang, Challenger/Cuda and the AMX/Javelin. The small bore classes were populated by the BMW 2002, Datsun 510 and the like. These cars were built for speed, but they were production based regardless.

Now that all the domestic automakers are building, or promising to build retro models with modern performance, why don't we lose the tube frame, floppy body race cars and return to a production based formula? Remember the old saying "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday"? Just think of a field full of new Mustang GT500's, Challengers & Camaros. Just for fun, why not include the 350Z and the M3 for old times sake?

Race cars that the public can relate to instead of plastic bodied Jaguars and Marcos. Let's face it, how many race fans in North America know what a Marcos is?

Take the series back to it's roots & I guarantee that the fans will follow!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hans Stuck at the Nurburgring

This clip is just incredible! This is in car footage with Hans Stuck in a 2004 BMW M3 GTR setting a new lap record. There are spots where he is in top gear for what looks like well over a kilometer.

Turn up the speakers and look HERE

Granda Bud's P & G Special

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

They say I should talk about what I know!

What the hell do I know?

It seems that business sites telling folks how to profit from their blog are popping up all over the place & they are all talking about how you can generate dollars by writing about what you know. Well, what do I know about? I know tons about raising kids, but that doesn't make me special, or even right. Well, of course I'm right, just ask me! I know lots about me, but who cares about me. Well, a big part of me is cars. In fact, cars pretty much define who I am.

I was born in the later half of the sixties, which I really think was the golden age of racing in North America. We had sports racers being built by factories, local car clubs and handy guys in their garage. We had Trans Am when it was at it's peak. We had the Can-Am ground pounders. Unlike most kids though, I actually had access to these cars. My Dad raced an outrageous red, white & blue AMX here in Ontario on some of the tracks that have become legends in Ontario history. Harewood Acres. Edenvale. Mosport. I don't think I stood a chance. I had no choice but to become a car fanatic.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Paris Hilton eat your heart out!

I work with a guy who is in his late forties & has this habit of dating hot, younger women. What they see in him I'm not so sure, unless it is the hot car and the $800,000 house. His latest girlfriend apparently was doing some house cleaning yesterday (if that's what you call snooping around in boxes) and came across an unmarked cassette tape. Of course she had to throw it in and see what was on it. What she heard was the sounds of a woman in the throws of ecstasy! She immediately called work & freaked out on him for taping her. It was halfway through this tirade when she heard the woman's voice and realized (maybe even worse) that it wasn't her! She had stumbled upon a tape that he had made with a previous girlfriend 10 years ago. Of course, she lost her mind! Why do you still have this when you live with ME???

Now it is kinda weird that this cat is still keeping a freaky love tape from a decade ago, but he claims to have forgotten about it long ago & it was in the bottom of a box in a storage room.

Maybe the girl should learn not to be so nosy & realize that her boyfriend who is a full 20 years older than her has a lot more history than her, not to mention that he's a bit odd. I wonder if he's going to live through the weekend.


Not only is the guy a Royal Knob, but he doesn't have the balls to allow comments or an e-mail link on his site so that people can respond to him!!


like any good blooger, I attempt to visit the blogs of people who comment on here, so long as they are real people, not just some knob trying to sell me a real estate scam. So I visited Juicy Fruit's site & was looking forward to reading all about the life of a park ranger.

"I am only 28 years old, I am not too far off from these guys, but when I was their age, I didn't do stuff like this, I had fun yes, but I didn't need to break the law to do it."

What were they doing?

Drinking in the park!!!! Oh my...imagine the horror....teenagers drinking in a park!!! Now don't get me wrong, I would be the first one to smack them out for making too much noise, making a mess or doing damage in the park, but to find someone so young who is upset by kids drinking is weird. Guy, that is normal behaviour for teenagers! You live in Virginia, not Utah...get a sense of humour!

Don't even get me started on busting people for having sex in the car.....