Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Weekend Review 7/23-24

Well it was a weekend full of exciting races, here goes the rundown.

It was a chilly day in the Eifel Mountains of Germany for this year's German round of Formula 1.  Rain threatened throughout the weekend, but never did effect on track activities.  The established order at the front of the field was disturbed this weekend, with championship leader Vettel starting from third, a race tart from behind the first row.  His team-mate Weber began on pole, but bogged on the start, trapping his temamate behind, and allowing McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to burst through into first.  The main drama of the race came from the Pirelli tires, run by all of the cars in the series.  The soft compound brought to the track this weekend lacked maximum grip in the relatively chilly 50(f) degree weather.  However the weather did give longevity that the tires lack in the heat, with the soft compound lasting about 60 miles at race pace.  Drama also evolved in the pits, as the tires did not come up to temperature as quickly as expected after a stop, making the 'undercut' strategy of pitting early ineffective.  Positions between the top three positions would transition throughout the race, and Hamilton would come away with the win.  Ferrari's Fernando Alonso would come home in 2nd place, but run out of fuel on the return lap, hitching a ride on the sidepod of Mark Weber, the third place car.  Vettel passed Massa in the pit cycle to take 4th place, an Adrian Sutil would finish 6th, being the last car on the lead lap.

Grand-Am competed this weekend in Millville New Jersey.  The 90+ degree temperatures, exasperated with high humidity led to extreme heat around the track.  Worse even were the temperatures in the cars, ranging from 120 to 160 degrees. Many teams opted to utilize the cool-box technology, a 30 pound weight gain, but worth it to most drivers.  Cool-box cycles cold water from a compressed box under the seat, through tubes sewn onto the undershirt the driver wears, cooling their core temperature.  Scott Pruett would recover from an early penalty to bring his Ganassi Prototype to an overall victory.  Max Angelelli's Suntrust machine came home second, and Alex Gurney 3rd in the Gainsco machine.  Johnathan Bomarito won the GT class in the Speedsouce Mazda RX8.  Early front runner in GTs, the Whelen Corvette driven by Boris Said this weekend was spun by a Dempsey Mazda that was a lap down, breaking a toe link and disabling the car.

Indycar was north of the border this weekend, driving on the airport circuit in Edmonton.  Formula 1 Alumni Takuma Sato started on pole and had a good run on the start.  Then Alex Tagliani had contact with the back of Graham Rahal, who lost his rear tire, spinning him through a pack, collecting Paul Tracy and Sebastian Saavedra.  Tags would be given a drive-through penalty, but it was little consolation to the other three driver, crashed out of the race.  Will Power would take the lead from Sato, who fell back through the field until being spun by Hunter-Reay, causing a stall.  Driver started dropping off, Dixon had contact, Simona would have a clutch failure, Viso would spin clear of the pack, preventing further incident, and Briscoe had to stop for a late splash of fuel, from the top 3.  Will Power would take the win, followed by Castroneves, Franchitti, Kannan, Wilson, and Bourdais.

Also up north, American Le Mans ran a round at MoSport.  The field had limited competition in prototypes, with it essentially being a 2 car race, with Aston Martin winning over the Dyson Mazda.  BMW looked to be set for yet another GT win, but Dirk Werner was charged with causing unavoidable contact with a GTC Porsche and given a drive throuhg penalty, promoting Magnussen in the Corvette to the front.  Ferrari would fight hard for their second place in class.  The Panoz Abruzzi, un unclassified pre-approval car would have finished 9th in GTs, had it been homologated.

Moto GP ran their first of two US rounds this weekend at the Mazda owned Laguna Seca course in Monterey California.  Jorge Lorenzo broke out to an early lead, with the Trio of orange Hondas in pursuit.  Casey Stone would progress from third to first in very little time about halfway through the race, and broke away, not allowing Lorenzo to best him like at the last round in Germany, where he was passed back on the final lap.  Stoner would take the win with Lorenzo in second.  Pedrossa, another Honda rider came in third and American Ben Spies finished 4th in his home race.

Just thought I would put up a bonus picture of Alonso's ride along.  Watch the twitter @XPSMcLaren for updates throughout the week.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Weekend Schedule 7/23-24

Hey everybody, we have a big weekend of racing coming up.  (all race times are given in US Eastern time)

>Formula 1 will be running the German Grand Prix, this year the race will take place at the 3.2 Mile Grand Prix course at the Nurburgring.  Sebastian Vettel will be looking to take big points in front of his home crowd, and increase his lead in the championship.  However expect a push for good finishes by both the Mercedes works team and McLaren, who use the German engines.  Expect very quick qualifying times with the multiple straightaways benefiting the high top end of the cars this year.  Qualifying will be at 08:00 Saturday morning, and the race at 8:00 Sunday (tape delayed on Fox at noon, watch the twitter for a live BBC link).

>Grand-Am Will be returning to the New Jersey Motorsports Park this weekend.  As the highlite of NJMP's season, the track (facing financial difficulties) is hoping for a good showing.  Previously Grand-Ams visits here have been plauged by rain, most notably when Ricardo Zonta, a former Formula 1 driver took the backmarker Krohn racing prototype to the win in the wet. Will be on Speed Tv 13:00 Sunday.

>Indycar will be running on a revised airport circuit in Edmonton Canada.  As always with a new track, expect some of the young talent to have a good showing.  With a much more open layout than the race in the streets of Toronto last time, and a vow from race control to penalize overly aggressive incidents, expect a much cleaner race as well.  The race will be on Versus at 14:00, after the conclusion of the Tour de France.

>Also running north of the border, the American Le Mans series is running at storied MoSport in Ontario.  This 10 corner 2.5 mile track is the oldest surviving road course in Canada.  Since being opened in 1961 it has hosted club racing, ALMS, Canadian Nascar, and even CanAm, and Formula 1 in it's heyday.  With 31 cars entered, expect the Muscle Milk sponsored Lola-Aston Martin, and the Dyson Lola-Mazda Prototypes to be the contenders for the overall win.  It is anybody's game in the GT Class with Corvette, Porsche, and Ferrari all running well this season, chasing the so far unbeaten BMWs.  The biggest GT Story however is that this is the first race for the Panoz Abruzzi, product of the Series boss Don Panoz, and developed to be a direct link between the race car and it's road-going equivalent.  The race will be at 14:45 live on ESPN3.com with a televised replay on ESPN 2 at 22:00

The Abruzzi in GT trim, last seen running the Festival of Speed in Goodwood, UK.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

European Action

This weekend saw the last stop for the combined tour of GT1 and GT3, stopping at the Paul Ricard 'High Tech Test Track' in France.  Paul Ricard utilizes a number of new safety features.  The first of which is a high frequency beeper, set off automatically when a car enters the pit lane, to alert even helmeted crew members and drivers to cars approaching the pits.  They also utilize a new alternative to the traditional gravel traps to help prevent rough impacts with the safety barriers.  They use two different runoff areas, 'blue' and 'red' zones.  The Blue uses a high friction surface to slow cars and help prevent spins, and the reds use an abrasive tungsten compound that drastically slows cars, but will generally rip a tires contact patch apart, requiring a tire change to anyone that stays into the red too long.  The markings also make this one of the easiest tracks to recognize in Europe. 

Saturday action began with the GT3s.  Reiter Engineering's Lamborghini started on pole, and much like the Saturday race at Navarra, they would run away with the lead, opening up a gap as far as 8 seconds before the pit cycle.  They stayed out long into the pit window, and retained the lead throughout.  They would lead through the end of the race.  The Italian run Ferrari 458 came in second, with the Audi R8 of Demay and Lunardi taking the last podium position.  It was a bad day to be in a BMW, with the Need for Speed Z4 having an engine failure and a collision between their other two cars as the front one spun while fighting with a Mercedes SLS.  

GT1 ran next.  Big horsepower front engine cars had the advantage in the premier class, as Nissan GTRs Aston Martins, and Corvettes were laying down the best lap times and top speeds.  JRM Motorsports would pull a 1-4 finish, being split by a pair of Astons who passed for position on the last lap.  An early incidents from Belgian Racing (Ford GTs) and a second spin into the wall by Hexis team Aston Martin brought out an early safety car, and the teams worked through the night to repair their cars for the Championship race Sunday.

Sunday competition ran the same order, GT3s early followed by the GT1s later in the day.  The Mercedes began on pole, but was passed by an Aston on the start.  The BMW that had been leading the championship was hit hard on the first lap, and would drive on without his front left fender and headlight, he would duel with the Ferraris until he would have to pit due to tire rub.  The Lamborghini lacked Saturday's pace but Melnhof drove defensively, and a pack formed behind him leading to lots of jostling for position.  Both of the Ford GTs managed to pass the black Ferrari of Leo in that pack.  Just before the pit window opened Melenhof and Gulivert in the #8 Aston's duel for 5th would hit a climax, with the Aston spinning the Lamborghini on the back straight, at nearly 140 mph, which would hit the tire wall damaging the suspension.  The car was able to make it back to the pits but Melynhof was furious, ranting in German as he slammed the door of his stricken car.  A 10 second stop-go penalty would be assessed to Gulivert for the incident, which his teammate would serve after his pit stop.  The Audi that finished 3rd on Saturday was given a drive through penalty for a pit violation, and would later coast to a stop trackside due to an apparent mechanical failure.  The lead came down to Martin in the Aston DBRS and Soulet in the Porsche 911.  With 15 minutes remaining the Porsche would dive under the Aston through a corner straddling the curbs and taking the position.  With dark clouds threatening to rain rolling in, the Porsche wasted no time, gaping up to 9 seconds by the finish.  This was a return to form for the Prospeed team, last years champions who had not yet tasted victory this season.  Aston would hold their second place over the Audi R8 of Ide and Franchi.  The black Ferrari of Castellacci and Leo would take 4th place, and thanks to the bad weekend for BMW, would take the championship lead.

On the Track in GT1 the start was ugly with a Corvette and a Ford GT limping back to the pits.  The 38 Lamborghini ran up to 4th place.  Jamie Cample-Walter was on a charge in his Sumo Power GTR grabbing two positions just before the pit window.  Lucas Luhr would lead out of the pit cycle in his JRM Nissan, with Astons from Hexis and Young Driver in pursuit.  With 5 minutes to go, the JRMs sister car driven by Peter Dunbreck slowed down the pit straight with 5 minutes to go, his co-driver saw something he didn't like on the timing monitors and stalked back to the pits in disgust.  Luhr would hold on, taking his third win of the season.

We also had some two-wheeled action this weekend.  Moto GP ran at the Sachsenring in Germany.  The bikes ran the Grand Prix circuit, an unusual 2.3 mile course, running counter-clockwise, with only 4 right hand corners, compared to 10 left handers.  The Repsol-Honda team qualified well, with 1,2,and 7 starting positions.  Last year's champion Jorge Lorenzo started 3rd.  The field would pull away quickly and cleanly, with only one of 17 riders sliding off track but keeping with his bike and returning to the circuit.  In fact there was not a single retirement in this race.  The front runners would trade positions throughout the 30 lap contest, but Repsol's Dani Pedrosa would take the win.  Lorenzo made a last corner dive around Stoner to take 2nd place.  Stoner and his 3rd teammate Andrea Dovizioso would come home 4th, making up great ground from his starting position.  Ben Spies, Lorenzo's teammate would be the highest finishing American in 5th.  This win is especially important to Pedrosa, just raturning to the grid after an early season injury.

It was a great weekend full of thrilling races and last minute passes in Europe, and despite some accidents no one went home with anything more than bruised egos.  Keep checking back for a list of next weekend's event in a couple days.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Race Weekend 7/9-10

>American Le Mans Series, Lime Rock Park Connecticut
ALMS, North America's wing of the International Le Mans Cup took the stage at Lime Rock, a generally short course at slightly over 1.5 miles, with 7 corners (only one of which is left-handed).  In their 2 hour 45 minute race the two competitors in the prototype class logged an astounding number of laps.  The Mazda powered Lola chassis of Dyson racing drove to the win by keeping itself out of trouble, something the Aston-Martin Lola of Cytosport.  In GTs the early competition was fierce, until a heavy incident took out both Corvettes, a BMW, and a Ferrari.  Although damage was minimal the short course means a repairs stop drops you a number of laps, even under caution, ruining your weekend.  The second BMW from Rahal Lettermen racing drove to the win, logging yet another trophy for the German brand this season.  Flying Lizard-Porsche made chase, but a late spin prevented them from seriously challenging the BMW.

>Formula 1, Silverstone
The Formula returned to the site of the first official Grand Prix from 1950 this weekend at Silverstone, the track built from a former RAF bomber base.  The weekend was hit repeatedly by rain, with the track being soaked an hour before the race, but no more was falling at the start.  The field began the race on the intermediate-wet-tires, with Vettel jumping his teamate at the start.  The drivers showed considerable skill in the wet with no big incidents being caused by it.  As the track dried, the leaders pitted and went to soft-compound slicks, running in the 'valley' caused by the racing line being dry, and the shoulders still wet. McLaren's Button was utilizing his smooth driving style in a stellar run until in his second pit stop, a crew member failed to secure the right front wheel nut, forcing him to retire early.  Ferrari ended up taking the win, with the two Red Bulls securing the other podium spots.  Webber gave Vettel a scare, nearly passing the championship leader on the old pit straight in the closing stages of the race, before being told by his team to 'maintain a gap' from his teammate, now allowable after the re-institution of team-orders in the formula.  Webber hates being considered the 'second-driver' at Red Bull, and this will undoubtedly lead to more bad blood in the team.  Bigger news was the rule changes this weekend.  A number of the teams had been utilizing their exhaust gasses to add extra air pressure to the down-force creating rear diffusers (an under-body wing between the back wheels).  The change came about after the FIA discovered the teams had retuned their 
engines to continue running at full throttle, even when the drivers lifted off the gas, to continue blowing that gas over the diffuser.  The race director demanded that no more than 10% throttle may be run without the throttle being depressed.  However these rules changed twice throughout the race weekend, and are expected to be ruled on again before the next round in Germany.  So far the team that seems most affected is Renault, who's chassis relied on the system for stability.  They also say their engines (also used in the dominate Red Bulls) may be at risk for reliability, being designed to vent gasses by that throttle dumping.  I will give a better explanation of this situation once a final decision has been made.

>Indycar, Streets of Toronto
The Indycar Series ran the traditional CART venue of Toronto today, a twisting canyon of concrete and chain-link through the streets of the city.  The field ran relatively well in the middle of the race, after a few early caution periods.  Paul Tracy gained a number of positions early, and Graham Rahal eventually led the race for a period of time.  But then with about a half hour of racing to go, it seemed like the drivers forgot how to drive.  Barely 3 laps would get completed before contact lead to another caution.  Contender Will Power was spun twice, Graham Rahal trying to leave room for his Ganassi team mates was spun out of 3rd place by a car behind him, Indy pole-sitter Tagliani even ended up on rolled on his side.  The travesty is the lack of penalties given to the drivers in following cars, hitting the drivers in front of them.  This is not 
rush hour traffic at 20mph, this is a real race.  By allowing this behavior it causes a danger to the driver and fans (some of whom enjoyed the multi collision carnage).  Dario Franchitti may have won the race, but thew only real winners this week were Dallara, who must be raking in the cash selling spares to the teams to mend their battered cars.  Unless this situation is addressed seriously by the league, expect some payback (for better or worse) next race on the wide, high-speed airport circuit of Edmonton.

>Grand Am, Laguna Seca
Grand Am / Rolex Series rounded out the weekend, taking their machines around the famed Laguna Seca course in Monterey California.  In Prototypes Suntrust started from poll, the duo of Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli trying to use their speed to gap the field early.  However a jammed wheel-gun during their first pit stop allowed the Ganassi veteran Scott Pruett through into the lead.  Much of the action was pit-related, with Pruett sliding through his pit 
box on his car's second stop, costing the time for the mechanics to roll him back, and giving the Gainsco car driven by Alex Gurney into the lead.  Drama would unfold on lap 95 during a caution-restart.  Pruett would drop back three positions, but the caution waved again as a backmarker spun and became stranded into one of the deep sand-pits around the track. With the extra time, Grand-Am officials reviewed the restart video and determined Angelelli 
used too much of the pit-lane exit to make the pass on Pruett, and reversed their positions on the restart 4 laps later. Pruett and Angelelli would both pass the 2nd place car of Ryan Dalziel, taking the podium positions behind Gurney, finally ending this season's win drought for the red team.   In GT action, and early pit call set up the #70 Mazda RX8 of Speedsource into first place.  However they were called in for a late splash of fuel, allowing the Leh Keen in the Brumos Porsche 911 into the lead.  The 70 would rejoin in 3rd, behind their sister car #69, rounding out the class podium.  A good result for Mazda, who uses Laguna as their North American home.  

Looking forward to the championship battles in theses series as the seasons are mostly nearing their halfway points.  Next weekend will see the return of GT1 and GT3 to the Paul Ricard test track in France, but more on that next post.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weekend 7/9-7/10

Here is the schedule of event for this weekend, all times in EST:

>8:00 Formula 1 Qualifying Silverstone (Speed Channel)
>14:05 American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix (ESPN3.com, replay tomorrow ESPN 2)

>8:00 Formula 1 Race Silverstone (tape delay 12:00 on Fox)
>14:50 Indycar Series, Streets of Toronto (Versus)
>16:00 Grand-Am Rolex Series, Laguna Seca (Speed TV)

Expect a shake-up on the F1 grid after some rules 'clarifications' (more on that in another article).  ALMS will be a bit of a streetfight on the short and tight Lime-Rock park circuit.  Check the twitter feed @XPSMcLaren for flash updates throughout the race weekend.
Happy viewing everybody.
The new pit complex / media center at Silverstone.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Finally a race update!

Well we are back and ready for a legitimate weekend update.  I have got a number of events out of Europe this weekend to cover.  The first event was at the Navarra Circuit in northern Spain.  

Both the pro-am GT3 and elite GT1 classes ran two races each this weekend on the 2.4 Mile course.  GT3 ran first, these cars begin life as a high performance road going cars, which are given extra safety equipment, lighter components, and horsepower boosts.  During Friday's practice sessions the Lamborghini Gallardo of the German Reiter Engineering came out strong, utilizing it's powerful V10 to full effect on the straights.  It dominated qualifying, starting Race 1 from pole.  Driver Albert Thrun Taxis had a quick start, pulling away from the field, before making his pit stop and handing the car off to Nikolaus Melnhof.  Malenhof kept the lead, but used up most of his tire-life early.  Team Need For Speed-BMW ran their new chassis in it's crisp white livery up to the Lambo's tailpipe in the closing laps gaining ground in the curves, but could not match the Gallardo's straight-line speed.  In Race 2 the Germans reigned supreme, with the marques of BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche all finishing in the top 10.  The Audi R8 LMS made a stunning last lap pass on a BMW, winning by a mere .801 seconds.

The GT1 class once again made the scene, little compares to seeing some of the world's most exotic cars battling it out on the track.  The Lamborghinis benefited from their weight-power ratio just as their sister car in GT3 had.  After qualifying in the front row the two Murcielagos looked in trouble from the field of Corvettes, Aston Martins and Ford GTs.  However after their pit stops they got into clean air, allowing the duo of Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock in car #38 to use even more of their power down the straightaways.  In a special mention, Bertrand Baugette, a Belgian who led at the Indianapolis 500 in May has joined Marc VDS, and drove his Ford GT to a podium finish in his first time in competition.  In Race 2 it seemed to be a repeat of the first, with the mid-pack cars banging each other around the circuit while the front runners pulled away.  Then at the pit stops the leading car (Lamborghini #38) was given a drive-through penalty for leaving while his mechanics were still on pit lane, a safety infraction.  This allowed the less experienced pair of Dominik Schwager and Nicky Pastorelli in the second Murcielago to take the lead.  They would take their first win in GT1 with the #38 taking second place.  Overall the outright power and aggression of the Italian Bulls dominated the Spanish circuit, winning 3 of the 4 races, and taking 2 second places.

Elsewhere in the world of sports cars, the Le Mans endurance series was in Italy at Imola.  They raced 6 hours around the Circuit named for Enzo and Dino, the founder of Ferrari and his son.  Peugeot took revenge for it's loss at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking first and second place, running 8 seconds apart at the finish.  The lead car driven by ex-Formula 1 drivers Sebastian Bourdais and Anthony Davidson.  Frank Montagny and Stephen Sarrazan, came home in second.  Audi was unable to match the pace of the French lions, but stayed out of trouble and was reliable, with drivers Timo Bernhard and Marcel Fassler rounding out the podium.  In LMP@, the Oreca-Nissan lead unopposed until a part failure in the final hour led to retirement.  Greaves racing's Zytek-Nissan ended up with their 3rd class win of the season.  Finally in GT Ferrari won on their home turf, drivers Jamie Melo and Toni Vilander taking their 458 Italia model to the class win.

Finally for a change of wheels Moto GP, the world's premier motorcycle road-racing series was also in Italy.  Australian Casey Stoner placed his Repsol-Honda on pole at the Mugello circuit, to the dismay of the Italian fans cheering for the Italian riders and Ducati bikes as the home favorites.  The race would prove to be a much hotter day than the qualifying the day before, and Stoner's tire pressures were set up for cooler conditions.  With a mere 9 laps to go, this was leading to a lack of speed in the sharp 180 degree corners.  The first rider to pass was last year's champion Jorge Lorenzo riding for Yamaha, followed by Stoner's teammate Andrea Dovizioso.  They will now have a weekend off before the next round in Germany.
So I am going to try to get an update out this week with the standings in the Major Series, ahead of next weekend.  July 9th will have the ALMS in Connecticut at Lime Rock Park, and the 10th will have Formula 1, Indycar, and Grand Am action.  Until next time, enjoy some Grid Girls.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Sorry for the long absence everybody, I've had a busy couple on months, but everything is settling down now.  I will be updating the various racing formulas over the next couple weeks and restarting the weekly racing updates.  Looking forward to this!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekend Brief

Busy week for me so here is the schedule of races for this weekend (5/6-5/8).  Expect a re-cap early next week.

>GT1 World Championship and GT3 Euro Championship Algarve (various time slots)

>AMA Supercross Finale, Las Vegas Saturday 10:00PM Eastern

>Formula 1 Turkey Sunday 8:00am Eastern

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brazil Rundown

So the rain delayed Sao Paulo Indycar race went down early Monday morning.  The restart threatened to make it just as bad of a day as Sunday's attempt.  The cars rolled out for their parade laps on slick tires, and just before the start, the rain came back.  Miraculously the field was able to make it through the first four corners to dive into pit lane for rain tires.  The race went off relatively calm after that, Bourdais had a shunt into a tire wall, and although the car lacked visible damage, Sebastian shut the car down and walked back in.  On a restart KV/Lotus racing's Takuma Sato (a Formula 1 alum) passed road course ace and championship contender Will Power, in a textbook outbraking manuever.  Another of the KV cars, EJ Viso was also running toward the front late into the race.  But with about 8 laps to go, both of them had to stop for fuel.  A strategic fuel stop earlier done by team Penske allowed Will Power to take over the lead, and he drove it to the finish.  Graham Rahal finished 2nd, with Briscoe, Franchitti, and Servia rounding out the top 5.

Point Standings (top 12)
1 Power < has taken advantage of the road courses in the early season
2 Franchitti < defending champion, will be a threat for the 500 on the 29th
3 Servia < has finished in the top 10 every race, slowly climbing the ladder
4 Mike Conway < won in Long beach and finished 6th in Brazil
5 Ryan Briscoe < made up for a slow start with two good performances
6 Tony Kannan < was involved in Sunday's incidents but has been solid for KV
7 Alex Tagliani < sold his team but it looks like its helping his pace
8 Scott Dixon < expect his fuel mileage prowess to show up as wins on ovals
9 Graham Rahal < finally gelling with his new team, had a great wet drive
10 Takuma Sato < gets good finishes but needs to keep it out of the wall
11 Simona de Silvesro < caught up in 2 incidents, has potential for top 10
12 Vitor Meira < has shown consistency, expect a good oval program with Foyt

Monday, May 2, 2011


The rain yesterday at the Indycar race in Brazil postponed the event.  This morning around 8am Eastern (right now) Torrential downpours caused incidents like these.
I will be posting another update when able.
It was also a bad weekend for scary accidents.  The first video is from a Porsche Cup race at Imola (Italy) where two cars get together causing one to go airborne to frightening effect.  The second is a video from a V8 Supercars race in Australia, where a car stalls on the start, and is hit from behind by another driver, rupturing the fuel cell.  Fortunately all of the drivers in these videos walked away from the scene of their accidents.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Indycar Weekend

The only major series race this weekend is the Indycar Series, who are on their first fly-away race in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Due to a contract dispute with Formula 1, Indy is not allowed to run on the hallowed Interlagos Circuit, so iconic of Brazil's car culture.  Because of this an alternative was set up in the streets of the city, utilizing the Sambadrome (a recreational area built for parades during Carnival) and the city's convention center.  This will be the second Indycar venture on this track, which was marred by confusion last year.  In practice it rained heavily, giving the drivers very little time to learn the course.  

Being Brazil, the threat of rain again this weekend is still a real possibility.  Then the night before the race, after deciding the concrete Samba straight was too slick, it was diamond ground.  This caused a buildup of dust which formed a cloud as the field rolled through for the start of the race.  The low visibility was a factor in a number of accidents, especially early in the race.
Vital statistics on the track: It is a temporary street circuit which has seen heavy public traffic since it was paved with its race surface.  It is just over 2.5 miles long, and features 11 corners.  Surface is asphalt, the same blend as Interlagos, except for the Sambadrome straight, which is ground concrete.  The race will be about 190 miles around the course.  The track record is 1:27.74 (Franchitti) and last year's winner was Will Power, driving for Verizon/Penske.

The race coverage will begin at Noon Eastern time on Versus.  Click HERE for a spotter's guide to this weekend's cars.  Enjoy the race!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cars Post

One of the more recent trends in car modification has revolved not around the usual areas (performance and wheels) but on the car's finish.  The classic finishes like gloss, candy, and metallics are all attractive in their own right, but the new swing strips down the polish.  These are matte finishes, also know as flat.  Previously a car without a shine was a sign that somebody had run out of cash and rattle-canned their rides themselves.  New technologies in the makeup of paints, as well as vinyl car-wrap finishes have made an even attractive matte color an option.  Disadvantages are in the life-course of the paint, which is meant more as a show finish than a daily driver color.  Tree sap, bugs, and other corrosives can be extremely damaging to a flat finish, and it needs constant care to stay condition.  
>The trend started with black cars, taking a stealth bomber approach.
>After the black proved the concept, other dark colors came out, such as these.
>And now even more bold colors are coming out.
Right now the matte finish trend is mostly in the European tuner scene, the asian VIP customizations, and the US west coast.  However as the technology gets more popular other areas and manufacturers are beginning to show their new models in a matte wrap (see the rust colored Alfa above).  Some people claim that going mainstream will kill the look, that too much of it will kill the uniqueness of the look.  What opinions do you guys have on the flat look?

Video Time!
A Porsche GT2 RS having a spin on the Nurburgring

The Official Commercial for the new Lamborghini Aventador

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Post

Well all of the major series I cover here have an off weekend.  This weekend however does mark the first of the tests for the 79th running of the 24 Hours of LeMans.  This endurance classic will be held on June 11th and 12th, over a month from now.  Right now the course, partially the closed Bugatti Circuit, and part public roads, will host 54 cars.   Teams and drivers who have never ran at Le Mans, including those who have been named alternates, must show up this weekend to retain their eligibility.  The massive turnout of 54 cars is due to a change of regulations in the prototypes, and re grouping of the classes in the GT cars.  The three top contenders from Audi, Peugeot, and Aston Martin will all be turning laps this weekend in new spec prototypes. Other cars of note are the Lotus Evora GTE, making it's Le Mans debut.  Both Oreca and Zytek will be fielding prototypes with hybrid engines, trying to maximize efficiency and gain a speed advantage on the 3.7 mile Mulsanne Straight.  Making a driver debut this weekend is retired Nascar driver Michael Waltrip, who is going to attempt the 24 hours in a Ferrari F430, after two years of racing Ferraris in other competitions, such as 24 hour races in Dubai and on the Nurburgring (Where he finished on podium in his class.
Robertson is hoping to field two Ford GTs this year at the 24

Audi's stunning R18 testing at Paul Ricard earlier this week

A lot of the comments I've gotten on the race weekend threads are Formula 1 related, so with the lack of a race this weekend, I'm posting the current series standings for you guys, all together in one place.
1     Red Bull     105    (P1 Vettel, P4 Weber)
2     McLaren       85    (P2 Hamilton, P3 Button)
3     Ferrari         50    (P5 Alonso, P6 Massa)
4     Renault       32    (P7 Petrov, P8 Heidfeld)
5     Mercedes     16    (P9 Rosberg, P11 Schumacher)
6     Sauber          7    (P10 Kobayashi, P21 Perez)
7     Torro Rosso   4    (P12 Buemi, P15 Alguersuari)
8     Force India    4    (P13 Sutil, P14 di Resta)
9     Lotus            0    (P16 Trulli, P19 Kovalainen)

10   Williams        0    (P17 Barrichello, P22 Maldonado)
11   Virgin            0    (P18 d'Ambrosio, P20 Glock)
12   HRT              0    (P23 Liuzzi, P24 Karthikeyan)

Next week we will have Indycar racing from the streets of Sao Paulo Brazil, which produced close competition on an unproven road surface.  There will also be an event from Rally America in Ocean Shores, Washington, aka. the Olympus Rally.  Until then Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cars Post!

After it's release in 1998, the VW New Beetle has gone on virtually unchanged.  For the 2012 model year the bug is getting some new bodywork.  It appears they are trying to make it less cute, and the styling brings it  more into line with the Mini Cooper, and the Fiat 500.  VW has also announced they will be offering an R-Version of the Beetle running a 270 horsepower, 252 lb-ft turbocharged 2.0 liter inline-four.  This engine will be shared with the Golf R (an intermediate step between base and GTI specs).  VW has promised both of these R types to the US market by 2013, VW faithful rejoice. LINK
 VW New Beetle 2012
 VW Golf R

GM has released pictures of a special edition of their Camaro for next year.  2012 will mark Camaro's 45 anniversary.  The special edition is mostly cosmetic details, such as unique wheels, HID headlights, custom taillights, and '45' branded graphics.  Check it out LINK

Short post today, busy finishing out the semester.  Song for the day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Summary 4/18

Was a busy weekend so I'll get right into the results.  Saturday held the first major race for the Long Beach Circuit, in the for of the multi class American LeMans Series.  Without the likes of Audi, Peugeot, and Highcroft (who have opted for an international schedule this year) the field for the prototypes was scarce, with only 4 prototypes, in 2 classes.  In the end the Muscle Milk team, a Lola chassis with Aston Martin powerplant, made an earl pass on Chris Dyson in his Mazda powered Lola and never looked back.  Team Rahal running their BMW M3 took the win in GT class in a much more competitive race.  Corvettes finished 2nd and 5th, and Risi Competizione became the first team to put the new Ferrari 458 on a podium finish.  Also the Jaguar RSR which has been a reliability nightmare in nearly every competition it has contested, race up to second place at one point, and finished a respectable 6th.

Indycar shared the weekend at Long Beach, once again taking open-wheel to the west coast street circuit.  I had expected there to be carnage in the opening laps around the high concrete barriers, but was pleasantly surprised by how well the drivers behaved.  The first major incident was in the pit lane, with Marco Andretti sliding out of his bow and sandwiching international driver Sebastian Bourdais into the divider wall.  Marco would later admit to not even knowing Sebastian was there.  Paul Tracy of CART fame has arranged rides for some of this year's Indycar races and ran Long Beach with Dragon Racing.  He would be penalized for spinning (this blogger's favorite) Simona de Silvestro.

The race seemed like a three way battle between team Penske, Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, and Helio Castroneves; and Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay.  In the closing stages however, Castroneves dove for the leaders, taking himself, Will Power and Oriol Servia for a spin on turn 1.  It looked like it would be down to a duel between Briscoe and Hunter-Reay, until Hunter's car gave it up on the front straight.  Then to the surprise of everyone, Hunter-Reay's teammate at Andretti, Mike Conway drove up to take over second place.  Conway in his second year is most known for being involved in a last lap incident at last year's Indy 500, where he went airborne into the catch fence, and broke a number of vertebrae, missing the remainder of the season.  Conway in a black and silver liveried car with his last name across the rear wing drove right up to Briscoe, passing him with laps to go, and pulling away, taking his first Indycar win.  Dario Franchitti would finish in 3rd, which gave him enough points to pass Will Power for the lead in the points standings.

Formula 1 was a bit of a thriller in China.  Upon starting the cars and rolling off to the grid McLaren's Lewis Hamilton detected a smell of leaking fuel, prompting his team to tear open the back of the car and change an air supply filter on the grid, moments before the start.  The valiant effort was a success and Hamilton would take his car onward.  McLaren had a great start to the race, not allowing Vettel to walk away like the first two rounds of the season.  The new compound Pirelli tires finally did what they had promised, making the pit strategy a vital part of the race.  A bit of a gaffe by McLaren's other driver Jensen Button when he tried to pull into Red Bull's pit box for service cost him time and the lead of the race.  But Vettel's decision to only make 2 stops would be his downfall, allowing Hamilton (who made a 3rd stop) to overtake him with the grip advantage, taking the win with 4 laps to go.  Mark Weber who started a dismal 18th, would pass Button in the closing stages to add a second Red Bull onto the podium.  Nico Rosberg of Mercedes had a great performance, rounding out the top 5.

For something a little different I'm going to cover this weekend's Nascar event, from Talladega.  Now honestly I'm not a fan of Nascar for the sole reason of their vehicles.  I think they are too far removed from anything on the road to still call themselves 'stock-cars.'  A Nascar is built from the ground up out of  steel tubing bent into the shape of the car making the roll cage the entire car structure.  Also with the standardized specifications, the only difference from one team to another is who assembled the engine, and how the suspension has been set up.

This weekend they ran at Talladega in Alabama.  As one of the 'super-speedway' tracks, a 2.66 mile tri-oval with over 30 degrees of banking in the corners.  This allows the cars to run at their top speeds which are cut back by Nascar's restricter plate policy (which limits the amount of fuel the engine can use at one time).  Due to this policy the car's are on a fairly level field for horsepower to encourage 'pack racing.'  This adds to the 'entertainment' factor, but is disliked by drivers who see it as the cause of many of the wrecks on those tracks.  Due to some changes in the car design and track surfaces, the driver's have discovered that by running directly in line with another car, it gives both of them a higher top speed.  This '2 car draft' is controversial right now, and from what I saw of the race yesterday is the only way to succeed on this style of track right now.  In the season opener at Daytona (another restricted track) a relatively unknown rookie Trevor Bayne won the race, thanks to a having veteran Jeff Gordon as his second car. 

2 car draft in action

Jimmy Johnson, last year's defending champion would eventually win the race, with popular names Clint Bower, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kevin Harvick made up the top five.  

P.S.  I just realized this blog broke 100 followers over the weekend.  Thank you guys SO MUCH!  Here's some automotive beauty to get you through another Monday.  
Head on over to http://seriouswheels.com/ for this and more cars, all in wallpaper size.