Monday, March 27, 2006

The Garage has a new home!

Is now live.
Please come over for a visit & change your bookmarks. I look forward to hearing your opinions on our new format.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Test video - Gumball 3000

Only a couple more days!

Will be LIVE in a couple more days!

Love those vintage racers!

I'm assuming this is a Carrera Panamerica vintage racer, but I just love old Mercedes road racers! I look forward to visiting Cars & Photos for stuff like this.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Volvo buys stake in Nissan

A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with some other local Nissan types about an article I had read online that said that Nissan was looking to get into the cargo van market, based on the Titan pick up. Now, Autoblog has reported that Volvo has purchased a portion of Nissan Diesel that sells diesel trucks in Asia, with an option to buy more later.
For years, business consumers have had to put up with poorly designed boxes that have terrible seating, because that's all that has been offered by the Big 3. Lately of course, the Dodge Sprinter has offered a bit of euro flavour as an alternative, but at a serious price premium. If this Nissan & Volvo combo actually comes to North American, at a competitive price, they might actually kick some serious butt in the cargo van market.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Friday Fuckwit

Ok, so I don't drop the F bomb very often in The Garage (well, at least the online version) but this post title from Dadcentric made me pee myself! I have a new word to use tomorrow. You have to love british lingo. Oh yeah...and the moron riding the bike is pretty impressive too.

Fuckwit indeed!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Audi TT or tank?

Watch this ABC video story about a US Audi dealer who lived through a horrific crash in his Audi TT. I bet he'll sell a ton of these after the public gets ahold of this. He should post photos of the wreckage in his showroom! A very lucky man indeed.

Don't drink & drive

I just came across the newest release by Atom Films. It's a triple X, Pinks spoof featuring three knobs, including a Fabio wannabe named Triple Deezle, who are racing for Pinks. This is funny, just don't make the mistake I did of inviting the kids in to watch. Now I have try figure out a way to stop the 7 year old from dropping the F bomb every 3 minutes before Mom comes home!

Monday, March 20, 2006

New address coming up!

I've gone and registered and will be moving The Garage over to that very soon. In fact, the address may target the blogger site over the next day or so. Over the next week or so, the first The Garage v2.0 will go live on a wordpress site once we decide upon a look & feel.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

2006 Stars Season Opener in the books

Well, the first race of the season for me is in the books. In some ways, actually a lot of ways, I'm glad it is. It rained the entire weekend and our teams luck was somewhere in Kansas. If anyone finds it please forward it to the next race! There were some exciting races, however, for the J3 Competition race team the weekend couldn't come to a close any faster. The team could only muster a few top 15's and when your used to winning - mediocrity is not acceptable. The event with all the rain still stayed on schedule, and I have to give them credit for a job well done.
Some notables, Canadian Eric Gerrits finished on the podium with a third place place in the Spec racer class and Britain's Alexander Simms was a treat to watch in the rain. Next on the docket will be Arizona, should be dry I hope. Anyone who wants to see top notch racing should make a point of trying to come out and watch one of these events - it is quite a show.

Site review: VAST

What is VAST? It is a brand new free search service that extracts classified ads from across the web and displays them in an easy to manage format. So, what does this mean for readers of The Garage? Well, their current tagline is "tracking over 4.8 million cars for sale across 13554 sites". That is a lot of cars for sale. I did a pretty generic search "race car" and it brought back over 15,000 cars for sale. Of course the bulk of them were British Racing Green, but it's still relevant. I entered "sprite" as a keyword and got 218 listings, many of those were sprites or midgets.

I thought this was worth sharing, and we make integrate it into the next version of The Garage, which is going to launch soon.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A little bit of everything

What an event! Some of the biggest names and Teams are here and everyone is trying to show their dominance early. In the Shifter and ICA classes, there were a lot chance takers early on. A few pooched engines and your fair share of spins were on the docket for the day. I noticed quite the aggressive driving which really doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but it makes for entertaining practice sessions.
The J3 team had it's ups and downs for the day. A few spins, and even a bent frame were just the norm it seemed. My driver, Victor Cabrera, showed brilliant speed during practice and sits comfortably in the top dozen drivers; but as the day came to a close - so did the nice weather. Last rounds of practice were held in the rain which created some mild chaos as everyone again tried to show who was king. Rain seems to be the weather of choice for the weekend, and with over 50 entries in most classes, setup and qualifying are going to be at a premium. Canadians to watch for, as far as I could tell, come from the province of Quebec. Tomorrow should prove to be both entertaining and interesting to say the least, so hold on boys and girls - this one is going to be a wild one!

Blog Review - Cars & Photos

I just came across a brand new blogger blog called Cars & Photos. It's a pretty simple concept, a place for photogs to post some great car pics. There are some really nice shots. The above pic is of Henning Solberg at the 2006 WRC Mexico, taken by Warwick Patterson of Formula Photo.
Great job guys!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ford Rallye Academy

Now this is cool. The Ford Rallye Academy at Silverstone is using this little machine to train students from 10 to 17 years old the ins & outs of rally driving. Lest you think that it is some slug buggy, this RWD beasty is a perfectly balanced car that is powered by a 1,300 cc four cylinder. Thanks to Joe over at My ford dreams for turning me on to this one. If we had this here, maybe my kids would be driving these instead of karts!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Suzuki to join WRC ranks in 2007

Suzuki has been involved in the junior ranks for rally for years, but have never made it to the top level. At the Geneva Auto show, Suzuki unveiled the SX4 WRC which looks to be their platform for the upcoming 2008 season. Power comes from a turbo charged, 2.0 l 4 cylinder mated to a 5 speed sequential gearbox that will put power through a new all wheel drive unit that uses conventional differentials from and rear and an electronic central transfer gear.

I must admit that I haven't really followed the rally scene much over the last couple of years. Here in Ontario, the WRC is televised late on a Sunday night & I find that I never get around to watching it if I tape it. Now it looks like I'm going to have to start watching. Back in my competitive days, I rallied a Suzuki, so this bit of news has me feeling all warm and fuzzy.

New Blog Launch

Blair Valley Media is happy to announce the launch of our new toy blog, The Jumping Bunny. This is our first blog that is outside the realm of blogger, so it has been an exciting learning experience.

The Jumping Bunny is a essentially a toy review blog, but at times we may talk about all sorts of kid stuff. We hope you will come and visit soon.

Bloggers wanted

With some of the work I'm doing with some of the other Blogs we are building around here, I've been spreading myself a little bit thin. With the launch of our new toy blog, we are now up to 5 blogs and one retail web site, along with our full time jobs, so we've decided to start looking for a few contributors.

So, if you like the feel of The Garage and think you might like to add some of your thoughts, contact me by comment & I'd be happy to talk.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Maybe it's time for an opinion on CHEATING

Well now. I may be a bit younger than some of my readers, but my life long involvement in racing goes back to my toddler years in the late sixties. In 1969, my old man raced what may have been the fastest A sedan race car in Canada. An outrageous red, white & blue AMX. Now recently, some 36 years later, I have found out that the car was so unbelievably illegal that I thought that maybe the memories were becoming cloudy. The car was chopped & channeled in the interest of saving weight. There was a panic in the paddock on the first weekend when a TR3 parked next to the car with it's top up was the same height as the AMX. The car was that low.

Now how does that apply to me, the straight laced, would never knowingly break a rule guy? Simple. The old man was the first ever sports car racing champion in Ontario. Win at all costs. I've been crew for a few championships, but they were a result of hard work & solid driving. The old man was the real deal. Spare no expense, make the car fast. His cars would either win, or blow up trying.

So what's my point? Well, the current powers that be in at least one major series (ie; NASCAR) seem to have forgotten their roots. What about Smokey Yunick? What about all those bootleg moonshine runners? Even big old Roger Penske had some light weight Camaro's running around. Something about a vinyl top because the roof was so thin it dented too easily. Now I'm not saying that anyone should be condoning "cheating", but a big part of winning has always been creative interpretation of "the rules".

It has happened at all levels of the sport and will continue to happen at all levels of the sport, as long as we continue to race. Every team will always look for an edge over their competitors. Will The Garage Guy racing team ever resort to ebnding the rules? Not likely, because we don't have the budget for it. Will we get mad at the teams who can afford to? Nope. They are doing what comes naturally. Long live the hunt for that extra edge!

Cars: The Movie

Call me kiddo, but I may be more excited about the release of Cars than anyone. My kids dying to see it & it may be the only movie I'll ever be sure to see on opening day. The site has recently been updated with more stuff & from the looks of the "coming soon" links, there is more cool stuff to be heard. Right now, you can watch 3 different trailers & download a couple of cool screen savers. If you've got decent speakers at your desk, turn them up because the site sounds great, from the music to the snortin' V8 exhaust.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spec Solstice?

Ok, so I know this is really old news but I just found it & I think it's cool. Pontiac built the Weekend Club Racer concept for SEMA this past fall. At this point, it looks like it's all cosmetic, but the removable hard top is really sharp looking. Could we see a Spec Solstice series running back to back with Spec Miata soon? I bet we will.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

1967 US Grand Prix Ticket

I'm not sure if I've got anything else to go with this one, it just fell out of a Can Am program I was scanning. I thought it was pretty cool though. I was 4 months old then & I think this little bit of card stock is in considerably better shape than I am!

Formula One is back!

With a 6 am start here in Ontario, I wasn't even sure I wanted to get up that early to watch. The last few seasons have left me feeling pretty cold towards the F1 circus, with no passing and very few glimmers of real brightness. Alonso's win of the World Championship last year was great, if only because someone had beaten Michael, but otherwise the season didn't do much for me. I haven't really paid any attention to the preseason this year, as I just wasn't interested. Imagine my delight this morning, to be treated to real wheel to wheel racing all through the pack, not to mention lead changes. To me, the top two finishers are no real surprise, but there was some real excitement further back. Here are some observations:

Drive of the day:
Has to go to Kimi Raikonnen for starting last and finishing in 3rd place. I kow they had a rough day in qualifying due to a suspension failure, but you think you could smile a bit?

Scott Speed:
Had a good solid first race that he should be proud of. Kudos to the Speed TV boys and girls for not focusing on the American boy all through the race, but you could have at least spent a little more time on him. Remember, he may hold the newest key to getting some American viewers.

Rookie star of the race:
Has to go to Nico Rosberg. Talk about wunderkind, this guy has all of his old man's talent and maybe more. The youngest driver to ever set a fastest race lap, not to mention on the short list of drivers to score World Championship points in their first race. I'll make a prediction: Nico will be World Champion before he turns 25!

Hotseat Award:
Goes to Jacques Villenueve for hopping out of his burning BMW and watching while waiting for the fire crews to finally show up.

Best nickname:
Comes from Bob Varsha (I think) when talking about Renault boss Flavious Brontosaurus.

Quote of the race:
"He's definately got some serious attachments" from David Hobbs, describing Nico Rosberg's battle with David Coulthard in the late stages of the race.

Who cares award:
As always, goes to big brother Michael, who finished 2nd. So what!?

The biggest story....
Racing is back in Formula One. There was not only some real passing, but some serious wheel to wheel action, couple with some bright young stars who might bring added excitement to the season. I actually can't wait for Malaysia next week.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Scott Speed Fan Club

Scott Speed. The next great American hope for Formula One. The boy has had some great background and training and I wish him the best. The only thing is that being a childish guy, I just can't get past his name! Scott Speed. He sounds like a character from Speed Racer. I checked his website this morning & you have to check out the glam shots in his gallery. He could have starred in Zoolander.
Thanks to motorsport live for the almost normal pic above.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pucker Factor

PUCKER FACTOR: the direct effect caused when the severity of one’s actions exceed the limits of rational thought.

The incident had a pucker factor of 10. The moment the laws of physics threatened to punish me for testing the boundaries, my nether regions clamped up tight as a vise.

I have joined the Southern Ontario Xterra Club for their 2nd Annual Adventure Weekend. 3 days of trail riding, biking, swimming and loads of great food while camping on crown land directly beside lovely Cooper’s Falls. Located on the border between the Muskoka & Kawartha regions, the Cooper’s Falls area is the entry point to a network of trails that lead across the rugged Canadian Shield. It has been a hot, dry summer so the trails are dry & dusty with the occasional puddle of mud caused where small rivers once crossed the road. For the most part, the trails are pretty tame, with only the occasion bump from a rock touching the bottom of the truck. There are some sections however that require the assistance of spotters to guide the drivers over large chunks of rock that look poised to break any vehicle that dares try to pass. It was on one of these sections where I became verklempt.

I was driving a 2003 Nissan Frontier, the pick up truck brother of the Xterra. The truck is more that a foot longer than the Xterra, which actually helps it when climbing these steep steps of rock. But the problem with the extra length is that the back end sticks out farther and tends to get caught up when coming back down these same hazards. And so it was that when I approached a whale sized rock with a nearly vertical drop off, that I decided to take the easier path down. I chickened out & took the simple route. Of course the simple route involved sweeping wide to the right to avoid a large rock on the left, while traveling so slowly the speedometer does not even move. I had watched an Xterra take this route and it was a piece of cake. Where life became difficult was when the longer truck took up more space on the hill and suddenly the road fell away from below the left front wheel. The truck dropped so fast that I thought for sure it would roll over, until a quick thinking Xterra owner jumped on the back bumper. The drop stopped and the truck teetered on the edge while balanced on 2 wheels. When it became clear that we had some stability, I crept forward until a third wheel touched the ground, and then the fourth.

The rest of the ride was smooth sailing and was rewarded with a cold swim beneath Cooper’s falls, a cold beer, a great meal and good times with some new friends. Next time maybe a shorter vehicle will help prevent another dose of Pucker.

This article originally posted on an old site I owned which has been retired.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dontcha think 'aammm sexxxy!

Thanks once again to the folks at Autoblog for turning me on (literally) to this. Apparently the Alfa 8C Competizione will be built, as a 500 unit halo vehicle at the expense of their advertising budget. It is thought that this beast will be powered by a version of the current Ferrari/Maserati 440 hp V8.

One question though. Wouldn't the name indicate a competition car of sorts? What series would it be eligible for?
I want to see this car!

Should we have politically correct racing?

Hemingway wrote "There are only three sports, bullfighting, motor racing and mountain climbing. The others are all childs games palyed by adults" or something like that.

Adrenaline. The chemical that fuels any competitor to reach new heights of performance. Well, at least most kinds...I can't see steroids helping a racer. Adrenaline takes athletes to new levels, it is sometimes said that it elevates them to a new level of consciousness. In the zone.


Some moron crashes into you and ends your day! You flip him the bird, maybe you swear to yourself in the car. Maybe you are yelling at him from inside the car. A natural response, especially for someone who is high on adrenaline. Except....

The governing body wants to portray a squeeky clean image. Our driver's can't be flipping someone off in the heat of battle, that might offend someone. Television lives inside your helmet, so you can't vent to yourself. Since when can "the man" govern what you say out loud to yourself inside a race car. They say it is a professionalism issue. I'm pretty sure that professionalism & presentability goes out the window at 200 mph when someone crashes into the back of you. At least you should be allowed an "Oh Shit", that's what the TV networks have the 5 second delay for. Or maybe, just maybe the powers that be can stop pandering to the bible belt freaks that are so prevalent in the states that they might realize that kids can learn when certain things are appropriate in adult life. Spinning down a racetrack out of control is certainly an appropriate time to utter a swear word or two.

In this age of reality TV, why can't we show professional atheletes behaving the way they really do? Let's face it, racing can be a bit of a dirty business, let the public see the real side.

I'm pretty sure that my 12 year old utters an Oh Shit or two while she's racing, we just haven't invaded her helmet with microphones. Yet.

You just wait to hear my opinion on cheating!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Driver's Duking it out!

So there i was on Sunday evening, sitting down to dinner & switched on the day's news on Speed TV and what do I see? Two sports car racers beating the bejesus out of each other. Not just a little shoving match, but all out fisticuffs, finishing up with one down on the ground under the other being pummelled! I had just returned from taking the boys to an OHL hockey game, where the highlight was the 3 times the gloves came off. These boys were big and moved fast. Fists met faces with lightning speed and the 3 boys with us couldn't get enough. Let's face it, fights are big news, never mind the fact that they are a majorly juvenile activity. My buddy & I were on our feet cheering as loudly as the kids were. It's just not something you normally see at a road course.

Road racers have always been the "gentlemen" of the sport who leave the physical punishment to those short track roundy round types they show on local cable. From what they show on those low budget, poorly produced shows you would think that to go fast & turn left, you need a good right jab. Let's face it though, history has shown us that even the big boys lose their temper sometimes. Has anyone forgotten AJ?

Do fights belong in car racing? Well, I don't ever plan on beating up a competitor, but I'm not about to turn off the TV when they show a couple of guys losing control in the heat of the moment. Should these guys be penalized? Well...that's a more difficult question. If the organizers are determined to have a squeeky clean image for the sport, then sure. But the reality is that road racing needs all the help it can get in the publicity end of things. Maybe they should offer a publicity bonus to these guys & then paint a target on the back of their car for the next round. I bet ratings would improve, not to mention that AJ might approve.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Book review: Formula 1 Fanatic

Koen Vergeer is a motorsports writer & poet who was born in the Netherlands in 1962. Just a few years older than me, his viewpoint on Formula 1 is relevant to my own. Formula 1 Fanatic is his explanation of what made him become an F1 fan & perhaps what has kept the fans coming back over the years.
The book begins with an attempt to describe the Dutch perspective of F1, but for me it really starts part way through the first chapter. At this point, Vergeer describes his first visit to Zandvoort. The sights, sounds and smells leading up to the start of the race. Witnessing his first crash and the death of a driver. It made me think of my early childhood. Sitting in a Shadow CanAm car, meeting Jacky Ickx, seeing my mom in giant bell bottoms & a floppy Coke hat. Seeing my father rush off to help the marshalls in a failed attempt to save a dying driver.

What follows is a wonderfully written history of Formula 1. Vergeer's research has yeilded tale upon tale, with many candid quotes from driver's and owners alike. Perhaps he lavishes too much attention to Michael for my liking, but then again, perhaps his analysis of the elder Schumachers' impact on the sport is spot on.

Formula 1 Fanatic was a great read, one that I heartily recommend to any Formula 1 fan. For the old guys who want to relive some memories & the young guys who really should understand what it is they are getting all excited about.

10W30 Dark Ale!

I was originally going to post this over at Foodies, but then I figured... What better place to review a beer called 10W30 but in The Garage.
The Neustadt Springs Brewery in Western Ontario has a history dating back to 1859 and they brew all natural, preservative free traditional style beers. 10w30 is a old world style Brown Ale that tastes malty and smooth, with none of the bitterness that many mainstream drinkers expect from a dark beer. I'm pleased that the beer is as enjoyable as the packaging is cool. I think we may have to make a road trip later this spring & go for the tour of the old building, not to mention sample some of their other offerings.
It's available at select LCBO stores for $11.50

Saturday, March 04, 2006

1962 Canadian Grand Prix

The Canadian Grand Prix for the Pepsi-Cola Trophy for sports racing cars was held at Mosport on September 22, 1962. The race was won by Masten Gregory, driving a Lotus 19.

Friday, March 03, 2006

SMART donuts!

Thanks to Jalopnik for turning me on to this one. A pair of SMART cars, powered by GSXR engines doing smoke donuts that would make Tony Stewart proud. Be sure to turn the sound up!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

BouRan to the Stars

BouRan Data Services own Petri Ranta has finalized a deal with the race team based out of Erie, PA. To be a tuner for an up and coming Junior driver. The deal, finalized late last night, consists of BRDS owner Petri Ranta Tuning for Puerto Rican Victor Cabrera for the entire IRL/Snap on Tools sponsored Stars of Karting Series. All eight races, spanning from North Carolina to California, will be hotly contested by the best that karting has to offer. J3Competition team principal Justin Stefani, along with partners Jim and John Giacomelli, had an excellent 2005 season and are looking to build on the momentum from last year and hope that the team of Cabrera - Ranta will bring home the JICA championship from one of the crown Jewels of racing. The first leg of the series is in Norman, Oklahoma; on the weekend of March the 17 -19. Watch for updates as Petri will try to give daily reports to the garage during the race weekend.

BMW Z4M Motor Racing Kit

The folks over at BMW Heaven have a post about the new BMW Z4M customer racing car. This is the first ever 2 seater racing car that BMW has built for customers. The car is destined for the German Endurance series and Nurburgring 24 hour race. Powered by a 400 hp 3.2l straight six, mated to a 6 speed sequential gear box, this thing should fly!
I want one! Anybody have a spare 250,000 euros lying around?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My take on car magazines

It's fairly obvious that I have amassed quite the collection of car magazines over the years. I've even got many years of the big guys that I've kept from my youth. But somewhere along the way, the big guys got too big. Road and Track, Car & Driver are just too big, too corporate for my liking. I stopped buying CD at least a decade ago & stopped picking up R/T monthly a few years ago, because the only thing I was reading was Peter Egan's "Side Glances". Now, the only time I buy R/T is when I see that there are a couple of Egan articles along with his column. Otherwise, I just read his bit online. The March issue of R/T caught my eye because I love shape of the new Camaro concept & I wanted to read the Ferrari tour article.

Right now, the only mag I read religiously is Grassroots Motorsports. It really is what it's name says. A car mag written, published, owned by car guys who get all geeky over playing with a new toy, and they really do play. The staff schedules posted on their site show some sort of racing event every weekend. If they're not racing, they're dragging a trailer somewhere to pick up a new project car. When was the last time Yates & David E. went on a mission to pick up a beater?

R & T Ferrari trip through China

The latest issue of Road and Track has a great article by Patrick Hong, tracing his route along the Ferrari China Tour. The photos by John Lamm are stunning and remind me of the old Mexican Road Race shots of Ferraris from the fifties. In the issue, they hint to more pics on the web site, but i think the kept the best for the print version. On the site, there are several pages where Hong recounts their whole trip. It sounds like it must have been the trip of a lifetime. I just love the classic lines of the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti & I think it looks even meaner with the taller, rally style springs.