Tag Archives: Ford

Global Rally X – Las Vegas

25 Sep

As visitors to my blog know, I am a big fan of the sport of Rally Cross and the American series, Global Rally Cross (www.Global-RallyCross.com). Having attended the first GRC event in 2011 held at Irwindale Speedway, I was impressed with the potential of the series, and what I hoped/thought it could become.

I haven’t been able to attend any of the 2012 events so far, but I have made sure to watch all of the races on ESPN.

One of the things I’ve been a bit disappointed with is the general design of the courses used for the events held at NASCAR super-speedways. I realize that through GRC’s relationship with Speedway Motorsports, and the goal of showcasing the action in front of the largest crowd possible, the course designs are going to be somewhat limited using the existing oval asphalt and pit-lane in front of the main grandstands.

The biggest issue I have with the course designs is that they favor the driver who gets the hole-shot at the start of the race. With next to no opportunity to perform an overtake any where else on the course (too narrow, no high speed or double-apex corners, lack of gravel).. if you are the first car to the first turn, barring any mechanical issue or serious driving mistake, you will win the heat/race.

As a passionate motorsport fan, I’d love to see the courses offer the opportunity for talented drivers to attempt overtakes at several locations. I believe this would make the racing more exciting and unpredictable and help to draw more fans to this sport.

Take a look at the graphic of the LVMS course layout below:

 

I have to assume the course will be run counter-clockwise, as I can find no markup that says otherwise.  I am happy to see dirt/gravel for Turn 1, but I am hoping the “shortcut” section is also of dirt, and not asphalt. If it is, that would make this course the one with the highest percentage of dirt of all the courses so far in 2012. Ideally, I’d like to see GRC courses have 50% dirt/gravel. This forces the teams to set the cars up differently, creates additional challenges for the drivers and opens the door to more passing and lead-changes… all good things for rally cross.

What are your thoughts on the LVMS course, and of the 2012 GRC season so far?

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to this weekend’s event, but I will be watching on TV! be sure to tune in as well. Motorsports like this need as many viewers, both in person and on TV/Internet as possible!

2012 North American Championships of Speed

6 Mar

Yes.. this is a big deal…  😉

 

Venue and Date Announced for the 2012 North American Championships of Speed

Auto Club Speedway will play host to the 2nd annual event the weekend of December 15th & 16th, 2012 with up to $50,000 in cash prizes available.

 

Los Angeles, CA – Tuesday, March 6th, 2012; Organizers for the North American Championships of Speed today have announced the venue and date for the 2012 edition of the event. Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California will host the 2nd annual event the weekend of December 15th & 16th.

The 2012 North American Championships of Speed will see the addition of the Touring Car Challenge and Grand Touring (GT) Cup. These one-of-a-kind races will bring together touring cars and GT cars from across the spectrum of circuit racing in North America. Drivers and teams from series like Grand-Am, ALMS, World Challenge and others will be in attendance. Making a return to the Championships of Speed will be the Time Attack Invitational, featuring the fastest time attack (time trial) cars from across the continent. Up to $50,000 in cash prizes will be up for grabs!

Also new for 2012 will be the EV Challenge, a competition showcasing the emerging technologies related to electric vehicles. With the majority of experts agreeing that EV’s are the future of automobiles, the Championships of Speed will offer a unique opportunity for this technology to be demonstrated.

Fans that are unable to attend the event can catch all of the action via a high-definition, broadcast-quality internet livestream. Complete coverage of the venue and all of the racing activities, including behind the scenes interviews and professional commentary and analysis will be included.

Founded in 2011, the North American Championships of Speed event was created to be an end-of-year motorsport and automotive festival, bringing together fans, drivers, teams and members of the automotive industry. Located in the heart of the “Car Capital of the World”, Auto Club Speedway offers fantastic viewing and interaction opportunities for motorsport fans. Unprecedented access will be granted to spectators including paddock and garage-area access, as well as a variety of viewing locations.

About AVMP, LLC:

Founded in 2011, AVMP, LLC brings together a team of impassioned automotive enthusiasts with over two decades of experience in motorsport-event planning and production. The North American Championships of Speed is a culmination of this experience, earned through the successful creation/operation of events such as Redline:Time Attack, Focus on the Beach, Focus Challenge and the Pacific Tuner Car Championships, to name a few. The creative leadership team is committed to developing and executing innovative automotive event programs.

 

For additional information, visit http://www.ChampionshipsOfSpeed.com

Message to all OEM’s: Add Lightness

10 Jan

One item with regard to modern automobiles that I’ve become more and more aware of recently is their weight. And how that weight has increased significantly over the last 15 years or so. Take a look at three vehicles, and their weight gain over the last 12-15 years:

Toyota Corolla

1998: 2450lbs

2012:  2800lbs

Honda Civic:

1998: 2350lbs

2012: 2650lbs

Ford Focus:

2000: 2550lbs

2012:  3000lbs

Weight-gain along these lines are not just limited to smaller cars. Take the Ford Mustang for example. The 2000 Ford Mustang GT tipped the scales at 3300lbs. Today’s Mustang GT weighs in at 3700lbs. If you think the 2012 Mustang GT with 5.0L V8 is a great performer at it stands now, imagine if the car weighed 400lbs less!

The fact that OEMs have been able to continually improve performance AND fuel economy while their vehicles have continued to gain weight is a testament to the talent of their engineers.

Now, much has been written as to WHY vehicles have gained weight. Some attribute the weight gain to increased safety requirements, especially for side-impact protection. Some attribute the weight gain to customers wanting cars that are “quieter”, thus the weight comes from sound deadening materials and other devices to deal with NVH goals (Noise, Vibration, Harshness). I guess OE’s think customers want that soft, cushy and quiet ride.  I think that is fine and dandy for your Lincoln Town Car or Buick crowd. Vehicles certainly have become larger, offering more interior room than previous generations of the same vehicle. Altogether, it adds up to 10-15% weight gain from 15 years go.

Most OE’s have developed B segment cars to slot in beneath vehicles that could very well have fit into that segment before the weight gain began occurring. The Ford Focus was the OE’s smallest car, but as the car increased in size and weight, Ford had to bring over the Fiesta.  Honda had to offer the Fit. Toyota the Yaris. Now Chevy is getting into the mix with the Sonic.

I’d like to see all of the manufacturers make a commitment to lowering the weight of each model of car they sell by at least 10% over the next 4-5 years (one design cycle). Mazda is one of the OE’s that has already committed to doing so via their SkyActiv efforts. The use of “high-strength” steel (lighter weight), more aluminum and composites is getting the job done.  However, it is more likely that we won’t begin seeing significant weight savings until two generations from now (8-10 years).

Here is an interesting study I found on the web:

http://aluminumintransportation.org/downloads/AluminumNow/Ricardo%20Study_with%20cover.pdf

With all other vehicle parameters remaining constant (engine size & power, coefficient of drag, transmission ratios, etc.), while seeing a 10% weight loss, fuel mileage would improve by between 3-4%.  Acceleration from 0-60 would improve by roughly 0.6-0.8 seconds.

OEM’s are going to have no choice but to begin reducing the weight of the vehicles they sell in order to meet the improved CAFE standards that are going into effect for 2016 MY vehicles.  Granted, as OE’s continue to develop and improve hybrid tech, weight reductions will become less of a factor. Take the forthcoming Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, that is estimated to achieve 100MPGe. This on a vehicle that will weigh more than 3300lbs.  However, to attain the required 50-60% fuel economy improvements between now and 2025, weight savings will be a necessary part of that formula.

As a gear head, of course I look forward to the improved performance of lighter-weight vehicles. Better acceleration, better braking, improved cornering ability, lower wear and tear on brakes and tires, etc.  Maybe this is a bit of wishful thinking…. as it assumes OE’s won’t completely neuter engine power in the process….  😉