Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Timmins Roads Top CAA's Worst Road List for 2015

On a daily basis, Canadian roads and streets are relied upon to provide an artery for our general transportation. Our dependence on the connections from place to place leads many of us to For years in Ontario, CAA has been asking drivers in regions across the country to name streets and roads that has tried vehicles as well as patience of motorists. The 2015 edition of the CAA's Worst Roads list showed how much Ontarian drivers wanted to make their opinions count. Overall voting for the 2015 campaign was 26 percent higher across Ontario compared to the previous year.

This year’s Worst Road voting results saw a different name replacing the three-year reign of Toronto. Timmins has grabbed the top two spots on this year’s CAA vote. Algonquin Boulevard West and Algonquin Boulevard East has been highlighted as Ontario’s worst stretch of travel on wheels. Timmins’ appearance on the list was the result of a community campaign on the residents of the area. Timmin Mayor Steve Black was also part of the 2015 initiative to call-out Algonquin Boulevard to provincial attention. “I am thankful to the residents of Timmins who rallied together with my support to ensure our provincial connecting link roads finished in the top 10,” said Mayor Black.

Toronto has frequent resided as the top-charting city on the CAA's Worst Roads lists year-after-year. A highly-populated city with constant high-volume commuting, it should be of little surprise to see Toronto appearing on the list twice. Third place in the 2015 voting, Dufferin Street has been demoted being the top position in the CAA Worst Roads list after three years. A list where demotion as well as complete removal is envious, the Worst Roads ranking for Dufferin Street has been due to maintenance undertaken by the city this year. Resurfacing and repairs to the roadway started earlier this month and will be completed in late October. Toronto’s Bayview Avenue has also made the CAA list in 10th place. Resurfacing and road repairs have also been commissioned to start on the stretch of Bayview Avenue in June. For what is now the largest city in Canada, Toronto has a legacy for poor roads. Prior to the foundation of Toronto, the Canadian city was nicknamed “Muddy York” resulting through the lack of paved roads and no storm sewers.

The following list is the 2015 CAA's Worst Roads list Top 10 in the province of Ontario

  1. Algonquin Blvd. W., Timmins
  2. Algonquin Blvd. E., Timmins
  3. Dufferin Street, Toronto
  4. Highway 144, Greater Sudbury
  5. Carling Ave., Ottawa
  6. Radical Rd., Port Dover
  7. Burlington St. E, Hamilton
  8. Riverside Dr., Timmins
  9. Dominion Rd., Fort Erie
  10. Bayview Ave., Toronto

CAA has also provided a map on their website indicating the top-5 worst roads by region at the

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The 1995 Indy 500: When Villeneuve and Canada Topped the Racing World

Photo source: IndyCar


Individuals born in 10 countries have claimed the great 500-mile open wheel race. In the 98 previous editions of the Indianapolis 500, the majority of winning drivers were American born (consisting of 72 in total). At least two Indianapolis 500 winners can be linked indirectly to Canada. The 1946 race winner George Robson was born in England but resided in Canada for years before again moving to the United States. Robson became an American citizen in adulthood but some Canadian auto racing historians would still consider his Brickyard victory important for our country. Last year’s Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay also shares a connection with Canada through his mother. However, on the May 28th, 1995 running of the Indianapolis 500, an epic race officially added the nation of Canada’s name to the event’s prestigious history book.

“It was such a big race win. It was the way we won it as a team”, said 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve. At the time a 24-year-old in his second-year with the CART/IndyCar World Series Championship, Villeneuve’s career soared after finishing first in the 200-lap race.



Flashback to the 1995 Indianapolis 500

Despite a rain that soaked the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s asphalt the night prior, the adventure of 33 drivers and teams commenced almost on time for that Sunday afternoon. Three Canadians suited-up for the 1995 edition of the 500-mile classic consisting of Paul Tracy, Scott Goodyear and Jacques Villeneuve. In the late stage of the 1995 Indy 500, two of our country’s motorized titans were locked in a battle for the BorgWarner trophy.

Lap 190, the field of the 1995 Indianapolis 500 was slowed by the crash of contender Scott Pruett. Canadian open wheel racing veteran Scott Goodyear rode in the lead of the race under caution behind the purple 1995 Chevrolet Corvette convertible pace car anticipating a final restart. Piloting a Honda-powered Reynard running on Firestone Firehawk racing slicks by Tasman Motorsports, Goodyear possessed a fast race vehicle that had captured a third-place starting position. For Scott Goodyear, a 1995 race win would have served as solace after narrowly missing the 1992 Indy 500 victory. Coming just 0.043 seconds short of passing Al Unser Jr. at the finish line, Goodyear was entitled to think the grand event’s highest honour was his for the taking.

Behind Scott Goodyear running second late in the 1995 Indianapolis, a Player's-sponsored #27 Reynard-Ford was wheeled by a young sophomore driver named Jacques Villeneuve. The son of who is arguably considered Canada’s first auto racing superstar Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques had constructed a promising career in a short time. Placing second in Japanese Formula Three in 1992, a third-place overall placement in the 1993 Toyota Atlantic Championship for Forsythe/Green Racing was enough earn the team’s IndyCar seat the following year. Jacques Villeneuve’s rookie season was topped by a win at Road America (the same place his uncle became the first Canadian driver to win a CART sanctioned race in 1985). His early success in the open wheel racing series also included a runner-up finish at the 1994 Indianapolis 500.

With the outcome of the 1995 Indianapolis 500’s final restart, one Canadian captured the greatest race in the world while another one saw it slip away. As the Corvette pace car led the field through turn four, the anticipation for the green flag proved too great for Goodyear. His #24 car streaked by the pace car as it was entering pit road leaving the Player's car in the dust. Immediately, Scott Goodyear was ruled to have passed the pace car on the start. Assessed a stop-and-go penalty, Goodyear and his Tasman Motorsports team chose not to acknowledge it based on the reasoning they were going to protest the penalty. The car was black-flagged but was discounted from scoring after five laps of avoiding the call from race officials. Failing to overturn the penalty, Scott Goodyear was classified in 14th place in the finishing results for the 1995 race.


The View from the Winner

Photo source: IndyCar

Taking the chequered flag for the 1995 Indianapolis 500, the Barry Green-owned race team and driver Jacques Villeneuve overcame adversity to win the big Memorial Day weekend event.

20 years since the historic event in Canadian sports, Car FYI was able to talk with Jacques Villeneuve reflecting on the 1995 Indianapolis 500 win. “It was one of those races where it goes well earlier and then you lost it and then you found a way to get it back“, describing the two-lap deficit his race team overcame. At the time of the penalty, Villeneuve and much of the team was initially prepared to count themselves out of the running for the BorgWarner Trophy that afternoon. However, the fact the team was competing for the full CART/IndyCar World Series schedule in 1995 meant they needed to press forward for championship points. On the radio, there was also a rallying cry given from major figures in the Player's pit stall. “Barry Green, who was the team owner on the radio and Tony Cicale (his teams race engineer) said, Ok guys, we can still do it. Lets put our heads down and work at it.

Leading briefly in the early stage of the race, Villeneuve and the #27 car were penalized in during the race’s second caution between laps 37 and 44. Still on the race track as a pit stop cycle had already brought much of the field to pit lane, Jacques Villeneuve was unaware he was the leader and passed the pace car on two occasions. The fault cost the team two laps. When the green returned to the race track, a repurposed Jacques Villeneuve and Player's Racing team quietly made up positions. By lap 84, the #27 car had climbed to 20th place and rose to 12th place by the 124th lap. “We weren’t really paying attention to our position”, said Villeneuve. “We were just racing hard until we got to the last safety car and realized we were second and I thought, wow, thats amazing, we managed to get up to second. Thats good enough!“ The team behind the #27 Player's Reynard-Ford’s perseverance was rewarded on lap 190. “Ahead of us was Scott Goodyear with the Honda engine and the Bridgestones and they were just so much faster. There only hope for victory was if Goodyear would make a mistake. Of course, fortunes favoured Jacques Villeneuve during the fabled final laps.

The BorgWarner Trophy, over 1.3 million dollars share of the race’s purse and the taste of milk in Indianapolis Motor Speedway‘s victory lane were traditional items that accompanied the Villeneuve‘s win. However, the Canadian driver‘s motivation for winning the Indy 500 also included the promise of a more homey gift. “My manager was saying that I couldnt afford a motor home. So I said listen, if I win the Indy 500, if I win this race today, then Ill get a motorhome. So when I got out of my car, the first thing I told him, OK, where is my motorhome?”

Photo Credit: Unknown

20 years later, Jacques Villeneuve fondly recalls the 1995 race. “It always remains a most special race for me”, said Villeneuve who credits the win for gaining him the attention to run Formula 1 for the first time in the following year. Having run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Formula 1 tour as well as in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 2010, Villeneuve returned to the great race in 2014 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. What was special was to get back in an open wheel. “Its been less the 10 years or 9 years since Ive been in an open wheel car. It was the fact of being back in the car at those speeds”, said Villeneuve. Between 1995 and 2014, the driver noted a different racing experience. “The cars now are a lot easier to drive. Basically, they have less horsepower and more grip. Last year, I was flat for the entire race. 20 years ago, I couldnt do it during the race. Only three of the four qualifying laps were flat. You also knew that if you crashed, there wasnt a soft (SAFER) wall. It would be painful.” Jacques Villeneuve also noted, “It was more less Daytona and NASCAR. I prefer the old fashion when the cars were more on the edge and were more difficult to drive. The way the cars are now, an average driver will be able to run fast. You dont have to be any good; Its actually quite simple. It becomes tricky once you get in traffic.”

Jacques Villeneuve has never taken time to absorb the effect his Indianapolis 500 victory had for Canada. Realizing that Canadians typically gravitate to hockey on a national stage, he understood the win in the internationally renowned race was a big deal in 1995. With almost two decades between the 1995 Indy 500 and today, Player's tobacco brand is no longer able to be represented alongside Canadian drivers, Scott Goodyear has long retired the steering wheel in favour of a microphone during IndyCar broadcasts and Jacques Villeneuve’s Indy 500 as well as his later 1997 Formula 1 World Championship appears somewhat buried by years of less successful career outings for the now 44-year-old Canadian. Auto racing in this country faces its challenges against the world’s best. However, the vigor behind that 1995 Indy 500 can always be reignited when a Canadian sits on the starting grid at the famous Brickyard.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Volvo to Equip TurboCord Dual Portable Charger Standard on All XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrids

With the all-new Volvo XC90, the Swedish auto company will introduce the option of the world's first seven-passenger plug-in hybrid later this year. The 2016 XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid (also called the Twin Engine by Volvo) can be driven up to 43 kilometers on an electrical battery charge. Once the 9.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack's charge is depleted, the 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid's 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged and supercharged engine provides a confident 320 horsepower. All models of the large premium crossovers are propelled through an all-wheel drive and equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

For its introduction, the 2016 XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid crossover vehicle will come with a special standard technology making faster battery charging possible. The Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine is billed as the first plug-in hybrid to include a standard 240-volt charger with the portable TurboCord dual charger system. TurboCord features the flexibility of 120-volt Level 1 and a 240-volt Level 2 vehicle charging apparatus.

Supplied by AeroVironment’s Efficient Energy Systems, the TurboCord dual charger is compatible with 240-volt household outlets sometimes found in garages. The advantage of the TurboCord's Level 2 charging capacity is astounding for electric vehicle enthusiasts. A depleted battery on the Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid crossover needs 7 hours to be completely replenished under 120-volt charging. Through 240-volt charging, the battery of the 2016 XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid requires just 2.5 hours. 


Most electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are included with a 120-volt built-in or portable charging unit. While 120-volt power outlets are common and easy to locate, these connections are slow to recharge the large capacity battery packs of electrified vehicles.

In Canada, the starting price for the 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid model is $73,400 (not including applicable government tax credits). The TurboCord dual charger included with the XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid could provide itself as an alternative to a home charging unit that cost hundreds plus installation.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Monday Practice Crash at Indianapolis Leaves James Hinchcliffe Seriously Injured

Photo Credit: Jim Haines

Being a glorious motorsport locale that his tested many of the world's greatest challengers of speed, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway also bears the reputation for placing individuals on the borderline of blazing fast records and shear danger. Over time and through the injury and loss of so many legends behind the wheel, the efforts for improved safety has been granted a similar devotion as the passion to push a vehicle to faster feats. Early Monday afternoon, one of the most serious incidents resulted in a case where one of IndyCar's most popular drivers James Hinchcliffe became trapped within the undesired, worrisome zone that always haunts motorsports.

Silence came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a result of a massive, high-impact into the turn 3 SAFER barrier wall. At 1:21 p.m. local time, the #5 car of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports piloted by Oakville's James Hinchcliffe struck the wall after a quick puff of smoke appeared underneath his race car. Striking the turn 3 barrier, Hinchcliffe's #5 car suffered heavy right front damage on the initial impact. The vehicle then careened down the track as both right wheels broke off the car. Briefly sliding on its right side, the #5 car eventually stopped in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's turn 4.  

Safety crew quickly rushed to the wreckage of the Dallara chassis structure as the Honda bodywork was scattered across the turn 3-4 complex. As Hinchcliffe was evaluated on the scene and removed, some relief came as the driver appeared awake. However, James Hinchcliffe was also found to be seriously injured at the scene following the crash. He was immediately transported to nearby IU Health Methodist Hospital with no word given to the general public for the reason. 

At 4 p.m. local time, IndyCar provided its first update on James Hinchcliffe explaining the winner of this year's Grand Prix of Louisiana underwent surgery on his left upper thigh. At about 8 p.m. Monday evening, IndyCar released a follow-up on the condition of James Hinchcliffe. Said to be in the Intensive Care Unit at hospital, the Canadian driver remains in stable condition heading into the night. Hinchcliffe's car co-owner Sam Schmidt commented, "That's the most important thing on our minds right now and we will do absolutely everything required to ensure a complete recovery.". A sentiment echoed through by race fans on social media and journalists sending heartfelt well-wishes to the driver recognized as "The Mayor of Hinchtown". Active and retired drivers have also voiced their support to James Hinchcliffe. The following tweet was shared by former race competitor Dario Franchitti.

Another IndyCar news release detailing the Monday's practice offered some information regarding for the reason of James Hinchcliffe's crash. According to a Honda spokesperson, a right front suspension piece failed on the #5 car causing the crash.

On Sunday, James Hinchcliffe qualified for the Indianapolis 500 in 24th place through a run he called frustrating and hindered by strong winds. Looking forward to running his fifth 500-mile classic at the historic track for 2015, the Canadian stated in a post-qualifying interview, "You've got to be smart, you've got to make it to Lap 150, Lap 170 before you can start thinking about making it to the end of the race. As long as you do that, you're going to be up there."

In the coming day or days, more details on the condition of James Hinchcliffe should provide a glimpse into his road to recovery. We all hope it is a speedy one!

The following is the video posted by RTV6 | The Indy Channel of James Hinchcliffe's crash. (Warning, it is a violent-looking accident):

Scott Dixon Takes 99th Indy 500 Pole Position

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

The Indianapolis 500 is set to take place for the 99th time as a Memorial Day weekend classic. Prior to racing for 500 miles on the famed 2.5-mile oval track, Verizon IndyCar drivers need to qualify for the event. To earn their starting positions, Honda and Chevrolet supported race machines would be set loose for a four-lap qualifying run with the pole position being the most coveted spot.

For 2015, the qualifying format at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's most prestigious event underwent a forced restructuring. Persistent rain soaking the bricks Saturday prevented the planned qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500. After rescheduling all qualifying activity for Sunday, Ed Carpenter's crash in a morning practice caused another revision to the Indy 500 time trials. While Carpenter did not suffer injury from the accident, a late decision was made to amend the technical guidelines for the qualifying. Teams were originally set to qualify with a modified aerodynamic setup that differed from a race configuration. However, after the third incident where a vehicle left the ground at the speedway in less than a week, IndyCar required teams to run the race day aerodynamic setup for qualifying. This resulted in slower lap times but provided an extra level of safety as the time trials took place. Due to the revision to the qualifying rules, qualifying was further condensed with the elimination of the Fast Nine session meaning drivers will receive just one chance to post a pole-winning time.

Despite an early draw, Scott Dixon and the #9 Target car owned by Chip Ganassi Racing captured the pole position for Sunday's great race. Producing a four-lap run at an average speed of 226.760 miles per hour taking 2 minutes, 38.7579 seconds to compete, Dixon beat out the always formidable contention of Team Penske race cars by Will Power. The gap between Scott Dixon and Will Power equates to just 0.2879 seconds over the four-lap qualifying run. Dixon's second pole for the Indy 500 is the fourth in team history for Chip Ganassi Racing. The last time the New Zealander captured pole at the 500-mile race, he won. There have been 18 occasions where the 500-mile race was won from the pole. Only two drivers, Rick Mears and Johnny Rutherford have been able to accomplish the feat more than once.

Filling the first row of the 2015 Indianapolis 500 will be Simon Pagenaud driving the #22 Penske Chevrolet joining his teammate Will Power's #1 car. The remainder of Roger Penske's four-car team for 2015 qualifying for the Indy 500 consists of Helio Castroneves in fifth and Juan-Pablo Montoya will start 15th. Castroneves and Montoya combines for four wins in the prestigious race. As a car owner, Roger Penske has been to victory lane a record 15 times. However, "The Captain's" last win at the speedway's 500-mile classic came in 2009.

Backing up the Chip Ganassi Racing contingent at the front of the 2015 Indy 500 field, 2013 winner of the Borg-Warner Trophy Tony Kanaan grabbed fifth place. 2015 qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 is the fourth time a Chevrolet-powered entry took pole. In fact, Sunday's session saw the top-five cars running both engines and aero kits attached with the bowtie badge.

The first placed Honda powered machine was wheeled by Justin Wilson for Andretti Autosport. Wilson has signed for the two Indy races of May that started with the Grand Prix of Indianapolis road race. Wilson will lead the charge of a five-car Andretti Autosport effort determined to defend their 2014 race win. The reigning Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay placed 16th in qualifying for Sunday.

Two Canadian drivers qualified for the 2015 Indianapolis 500. Alex Tagliani was a late addition to the A.J. Foyt Racing effort that expanded to three cars. Tagliani qualified in a respectable 22nd place spot in the #48 car. James Hinchcliffe clocked into the field in 24th place with his #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car.

With 34 entries competing for 33 positions, one driver was bound to miss out on starting the 2015 event. The 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier was unable to qualify for this year's race.

2015 Indianapolis 500

Starting Grid

Position Car # Driver/Place of Origin Sponsor/Car/Team Average Speed
1 9 Scott Dixon Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing Teams 226.760
2 1 Will Power Toowoomba, Australia Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet Verizon Team Penske 226.350
3 22 Simon Pagenaud Montmorillon, France Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet Team Penske 226.145
4 10 Tony Kanaan Salvador, Brazil NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing Teams 225.503
5 3 Helio Castroneves Sao Paulo, Brazil Shell V-Power Nitro+ Team Penske Chevrolet Team Penske 225.502
6 25 Justin Wilson Sheffield, England Andretti Autosport Honda Andretti Autosport 225.279
7 11 Sebastien Bourdais Le Mans, France Hydroxycut-HAUS Vaporizer KVSH Chevrolet KVSH Racing 225.193
8 27 Marco Andretti Nazareth, Pa. Snapple Honda Andretti Autosport 225.189
9 21 Josef Newgarden Hendersonville, Tenn. Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet CFH Racing 225.187
10 6 JR Hildebrand Sausalito, Calif Preferred Freezer CFH Racing Chevrolet CFH Racing 225.099
11 26 Carlos Munoz Bogotá, Colombia AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda Andretti Autosport 225.042
12 20 Ed Carpenter Indianapolis, Ind. Fuzzy's Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet CFH Racing 224.883
13 32 Oriol Servia Pals, Spain Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 224.777
14 83 Charlie Kimball Camarillo, Calif. Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing Teams 224.743
15 2 Juan Pablo Montoya Bogotá, Colombia Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet Team Penske 224.657
16 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Fort Lauderdale, Fla. DHL Honda Andretti Autosport 224.573
17 15 Graham Rahal New Albany, Ohio Steak 'n Shake Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 224.290
18 18 Carlos Huertas Bogotá, Colombia Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dale Coyne Racing 224.233
19 29 Simona de Silvestro Thun, Switzerland TE Connectivity Honda Andretti Autosport 223.838
20 7 James Jakes Leeds, England Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 223.790
21 19 Tristan Vautier Bogotá, Colombia Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dale Coyne Racing 223.747
22 48 Alex Tagliani Lechenaie, Quebec Alfe Heat Treating Special Honda A.J. Foyt Enterprises 223.722
23 8 Sage Karam Nazareth, Pa. Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing Teams 223.595
24 5 James Hinchcliffe Toronto, Canada Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 223.519
25 43 Conor Daly Noblesville, Ind. FUELED by BACON Special Honda Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 223.482
26 24 Townsend Bell San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Robert Graham Special Chevrolet Dreyer & Reinbold - Kingdom Racing 223.447
27 14 Takuma Sato Tokyo, Japan ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda A.J. Foyt Enterprises 223.226
28 63 Pippa Mann Ipswich, England Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dale Coyne Racing 223.104
29 98 Gabby Chaves (R) Bogotá, Colombia Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda BHA with Curb-Agajanian 222.916
30 8 Sebastian Saavedra Bogotá, Colombia AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing Teams 222.898
31 41 Jack Hawksworth Bradford, England ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda A.J. Foyt Enterprises 223.738
32 4 Stefano Coletti (R) Monaco, Monaco KV Racing Technology Chevrolet KV Racing Technology 222.001
33 88 Bryan Clauson Noblesville, Ind. Jonathan Byrd's/Cancer Centers of America Chevrolet KVSH/Jonathan Byrd's Racing 221.358

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Leaner, Meaner Sixth-Generation Chevrolet Camaro Roars in Detroit

Only six times in the past 48 years has an American performance icon undergone a massive image and mechanical makeover. It was September 12, 1966 when the press were first introduced to Chevrolet’s production pony car. Developed under the name Panther, the Camaro was born. On a Saturday afternoon at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, the sixth iteration of the Chevrolet Camaro was brought to warm daylight.

Despite being a cloudy day, the 2016 Camaro made a radiant debut. The generational shift for the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro exterior design is arguably not as substantial of a leap we have seen in previous reinventions of the Camaro. From the first-generation coupe and convertible, the Chevrolet Camaro’s appearance had evolved into a European-inspired sports car for the 1970s, a wedge-shaped 1980s darling, an aerodynamic space-age 1990s shape before assuming the modern back-in-time interpretation for the fifth-generation model. The 2016 model is focused more on magnifying the characteristics of fifth-generation Camaro (not necessarily a bad thing). Visually noticeable with the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is more chiselled bodylines that includes a hood wraps tightly engine the compartment. The top grille section appears shorter while the lower part of the front fascia is more heavily defined. The lower grille section appearance of the 2016 Camaro LT resembles the Corvette while the new Camaro SS has more of a 2015 Z/28 design influence. Front headlights reminiscent of the 2015 Camaro but the LED taillights have been restyled.

As promised, the new sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is a leaner machine. Compared to the 2015 model, the latest Camaro’s length is reduced by 2.3 inches, narrower by 0.8 inches and more than an inch lower. The reduced length appears most evident in the rear deck lid section of the sixth-generation car. Through careful engineering of components and the use of aluminum in place of steel, the new Chevrolet Camaro achieves greater rigidity while actually being lighter. Overall vehicle weight savings greater than 200 pounds has advertised for certain models of the 2016 Camaro.

For 2016, the Camaro's powertrain family consists of a three engines. As I envisioned in a previous Camaro article, the engine line-up for the 2016 sports car will expand to include a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Marketing itself as the most efficient engine placed in a Chevrolet Camaro, the 2.0 Turbo four-cylinder will provide fuel economy greater than 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Producing 275 horsepower, this small turbocharged powerplant actually equals the output of the 1993 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28’s V-8 engine.

Now residing as an intermediate engine choice, the 3.6-liter V-6 engine will feature some considerable modifications for 2016. Horsepower production is increased to 335 horsepower while controlled cylinder-disabling Active Fuel Management technology joins gasoline direct injection and variable valve timing.

Since the Chevrolet Camaro’s reputation is as a performance car, the new eight-cylinder is naturally the epicenter for the next-generation car. The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 engine has been customized for the 2016 Camaro SS. Producing an SAE-certified 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque, the Chevrolet Camaro SS new engine features gasoline direct injection as well as Active Fuel Management. All three engines provide drivers the choice of operating a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddle-shift mode. With the Camaro SS, Active Rev Match is included with the manual transmission blipping the throttle during downshifts. Model equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6 and 6.2-liter V-8 will offer a new dual-mode exhaust system.

Offering improved materials and ergonomics, the interior of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro continues to be driver-focused and performance-oriented. A flat-bottom steering wheel and more comfortable shifting for the manual-equipped models have been incorporated in the sixth-generation vehicle. Air vents are surrounded by control rings allowing the passengers to adjust temperature and fan speed. Providing 24 different lighting colors, the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro’s LED-based ambient lighting system includes a “car show” mode that randomly cycles through the rainbow. An available dual screen cockpit possesses driver’s information with a center-mounted, Chevrolet MyLink eight-inch touch screen is enclosed in a hexagonal base.

Planning for the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro’s introduction, the auto company offered owners of the previous generation vehicles a chance to be present for the momentous display. For the limited spots for just over 1,000 people were claimed in hours with many of them bringing their Camaros to the party. Representing 35 states and Canada, the showing of Camaro loyalists again makes everyone question why Chevrolet chose to cancel the sports car more than a decade ago (Perhaps it isn’t really a question since so many car enthusiasts knew back in 2002 calling it quits on the Camaro was a colossal mistake).

Going on sale later this year as the LT and SS, sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro pricing will be announced soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sorry Fellow Canadians, 2015 Mustang Customizer Android App is Not Available

At the beginning of this month, I was captivated by the announcement of a new app worth my attention as a Canadian car enthusiast. May 1st, Ford introduced a revised version of the Mustang Customizer app providing an interactive experience relating to the sixth-generation model of the pony car started the wild rush in the vehicle segment. Having previously dribbled in the desktop version of an earlier version of the Mustang Customizer, I was stoked to try out the latest program. At the time I entered the Google Play, my glee was quickly deflated as I eventually found out the new Mustang Customizer app was not available in my country. The app was released on Android and Apple IOS devices. Since I run an Android tablet, I am not aware if the regional restriction applies to Apple devices.

As a Canadian, I don't know how I am supposed to feel after finding out I can't even download the Mustang Customizer app. I recall Canada is the first international market where a Ford Mustang sold. In fact, thanks to Captain Stanley Tucker's charm in persuading a Newfoundland dealer to sell him an early production display model four days prior to the official launch of the Mustang in 1964, our country arguably hosted the first-ever Ford Mustang sale. It's ironic also there's a regional restriction on an Android app for the Mustang Customizer when the 2015 Ford Mustang was billed as the first to be offered as a widely-global vehicle. Unfortunately, since I did not receive word from Ford Motor Company on the reason for the restricting access to the Mustang Customizer app, I have no clue why Canadians can't download it.

I have not encountered region restrictions with an Android app before this month, but the circumstance reminds me of an occurrence I often endured with a previous tablet. Something that isn't well advertised when buying an Android device is that not all apps are guaranteed to be compatible. Even if the tablet is running the proper version of the Android operating system for the app, it may not be available. This is prevalent with low-cost Android-equipped tablets where even popular apps can not be loaded. I know there are hacks that can trick apps into believing your device is a compatible product but those tweaks are not without risk. My solution was to purchase more reputable brand name Dell tablet.

Not only was I planning to have fun with the Mustang Customizer app, there was a plan to review it for Car FYI where I wanted to provide the fair low-down on the program. While the app may be unavailable, Ford is also planning to release the Mustang Customizer program for desktop users. The second version for more conventional computers has not been released yet but it is mentioned as "Coming Soon". I guess as a Canadian, I will have to wait until the desktop version of the new Mustang Customizer arrives so I can review it.

Until Canadians can customize a 2015 Ford Mustang, let's enjoy this YouTube clip of the Mustang Customizer in action:

Bracing for the Premiere of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro


First sold in late 1966, the Camaro was introduced as Chevrolet's countermeasure to the popular Ford Mustang in the pony car category. The bowtie's answer to the blue oval brought a long-running rivalry that has competed on the track as well as for the attention of drivers on the road. As the Camaro brand approaches its 50th anniversary, there will always be the stain on its legacy of a poorly-conceived General Motors decision that dropped Chevrolet's pony car. Between 2003 and 2009 model years, Chevrolet was forced to atone for their error. The reinstatement of the Chevrolet Camaro 2010 brought a valuable sense of new life to a brand and company requiring a personality. With the emotion and place of the Camaro now recognized, Chevrolet will debut the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro version of their pony car at the end of this week.

Holding back the full vehicle, Chevrolet has engaged in spoon-feeding us tastes of the 2016 Camaro as an appetizer to Saturday's world unveiling. Ahead of it's premiere, here is a review of what we can expect to see in the next version of the bowtie sports coupe.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Style

It has been said the only a few badges will remain the same with the evolution of the Chevrolet Camaro for the 2016 model year. While the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is said to possess a small footprint than the fifth-generation vehicle, a lower and wider stance will invoke a meaner performance image.

At the front end, we can expect to see the familiar Camaro grille for 2016. While the appearance will not stun, the aerodynamic science gone into reshaping the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is thoughtfully engineered into the new car. To achieve better overall performance and reduced wind noise, the 2016 Camaro should have a sportier game face. Aerodynamic design for the latest Chevrolet Camaro features a flush belly pan that runs from the front grille to he center of the car providing reduced lift and drag. Altering the angle of the lower grille from 20 degrees to 13 degrees, the team behind the Chevrolet Camaro achieved one percent greater airflow for engine-cooling.

The 2016 Camaro's front is finished by a new aluminum hood that wraps itself around the engine tightly. More chiselled body panels appears to be a goal in the new vehicle. Rear fenders of the fifth-generation vehicle should also receive a magnification of its broad, bold shaping for the sixth-generation.

In total, the 2016 Camaro has undergone over 350 hours of wind tunnel testing.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Structure

With styling, the backbone of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is being strengthened on the new vehicle. Undergoing nine million computational hours before a prototype was built, the structure of the next-generation Camaro is attentively reworked. The new Chevrolet Camaro will be based on the rear-wheel drive General Motors Alpha platform also used for the Cadillac ATS. With that said, 70 percent of the components for the 2016 Camaro will be unique to the specific vehicle design.

Focused on minimizing weight, the sixth-generation car will be 28 percent stiffer compared to the current Camaro while weighing 200 pounds less.


2016 Chevrolet Camaro Handling

A lighter overall weight and stiffer body structure means the Camaro should invoke a heightened sense of agility for the sixth-generation. Improved braking and suspension to withstand the lively new performance car is confirmed to be present in the new coupe. For 2016, front and rear suspension assemblies are formed in aluminum. The aluminum assemblies boasts 21 pounds less weight than compared to the use of steel construction. Some models of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is also going to incorporate rigid composite material suspension links for additional weight savings and strength.

The upgraded road performance should be present on the entire 2016 Chevrolet Camaro line-up. “We kept the cornering confidence and control that make the Gen 5 Camaro 1LE so fun to drive, and added a greater sense of agility,” he said. “The new Camaro brakes harder, flicks into corners more quickly, and drives out of the corner faster. We expect it will set the benchmark in the segment and give many sports cars a challenge.” said the Camaro's chief engineer Al Oppenheiser.

For the 2016 model year, the Magnetic Ride Control technology (previous available on the ZL1) will be made available on the on the Camaro SS. Handling responsiveness could be tailored through a Drive Mode Selector system providing the driver Snow/Ice, Tour and Sport settings. On the Chevrolet Camaro SS, the sixth-generation vehicle technology will also possess a Track setting.  


2016 Chevrolet Camaro Powertrain

While little news has been disclosed about the engine line-up for the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro line-up prior to the vehicle's premiere, General Motors promises spirited V-8 power will once figure heavily into the DNA of the sports car.
The next-generation Camaro will receive its own version of the 6.2-liter V-8 LT1 engine. First introduced on the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, the high-tech descendant of the famed small-block employs the company's Gen 5 architecture. Gasoline direct injection, Active Fuel Management and continuously variable valve timing incorporated with the LT1 V-8 powerplant insures high operating efficiency. Improvements to both horsepower and fuel economy seems likely to be announced over the current Camaro SS. Unique to LT1 engine in this application will be tubular “tri-Y”-style exhaust manifolds as one of about 20 percent of components tailored to the 2016 Camaro. There has been no details regarding the customary base engine of the new Chevrolet Camaro. If the direct-injected, 3.6-liter V-6 engine carries over for the 2016 model year, over 320 horsepower should prove once-again to be a satisfying alternative to a V-8 powerplant. It may not be completely shocking if a turbocharged four-cylinder engine could also be part of the 2016 Camaro model line.
A 2016 Camaro is confirmed to include a dual-mode exhaust system that utilizes electronically controlled exhaust valves to provide a different level of performance and sound.  

Saturday's debut of the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro will take place at Belle Isle Park.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Johnson Follows Late Night Yellow Brick Road to Kansas Victory

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

After three weeks consisting of two short tracks and a 2.66-mile superspeedway, the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returned to the intermediate-sized oval in the shape of Kansas Speedway. Despite the lengthy delay in the Saturday night race due to a downpour, the full 267-lap distance around the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway was accomplished in a thrilling conclusion.

The Spongebob Squarepants 400 was scheduled ahead of Mother's Day (traditionally a non-active Sunday for the Sprint Cup Series). A pre-Mother's Day race, the Kansas Speedway event was shaped by the intervention of mother nature. Due to an anticipated rainfall that ultimately drenched the Spongebob Squarepants 400, a 2-hour, 16-minute, red flag meant the race wrapped-up early Sunday morning. Not only did the rain lengthen the duration of the race Kansas, the interruption changed the complexion of the front-running group. 

For the third time this season on an intermediate distance oval track, Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Lowes Chevrolet SS field by Hendrick Motorsports found their way to victory lane. Previously winning at Atlanta and Texas,  Johnson led 220 laps to win the previous two races. The SpongeBob Squarepants 400 was more of a case of opportune timing for the #48 bunch as they only needed to lead the final 10 laps thanks to a pit stop strategy that placed Jimmie Johnson and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the front row for a final sprint to the checkered flag after a lap 261 restart. In fact, prior to the red flag for rain, Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. were struggling just to stay on the lead lap as Martin Truex Jr. was setting a blazing pace.

Photo Credit: Hendrick Motorsports

The Spongebob Squarepants 400 at Kansas Speedway started with Joey Logano's #22 Ford as pole sitter staying in first place for the opening 29 laps. Logano finished fifth at the end of the evening but was largely a non-factor for victory after a competition caution concluded. After stints that involved Stewart-Haas Racing cars Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick in the top position, Martin Truex Jr. took the lead and led often throughout the Kansas race. As the race transpired, the relative underdog #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet SS performed with some serious gusto. Truex Jr. would lead on five different occasions for 95 laps (the most for any driver during the night's competition) and at one point battled fiercely with the hungry sophomore driver Kyle Larson and his #42 Chevy. Truex Jr. and the #78 team lost ground with the front in the late laps of the race through pit stops eventually finishing ninth in the event. Impressively though, Martin Truex Jr. sits in second place overall in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

The end of the Spongebob Squarepants 400 was decided in a dash where the Hendrick Motorsport cars were challenged by the #4 Chevrolet SS driven by Kevin Harvick. Despite the advantage of two tires in the late stage, Harvick's surge was slowed in his attempt to pass Dale Earnhardt Jr. for second. After a brief dice, the #4 Chevrolet set sights on Johnson but came up 0.487 seconds short of winning.

Last week's winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving the Nationwide car held on to third place. Prior to the rain delay, Earnhardt was given a free pass after just going down a lap prior to a caution. In fourth place at the end of the Spongebob Squarepants 400, Jeff Gordon also elevated himself and his #24 car after a difficult first-half of the event.

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Behind Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth brought his #20 Toyota across the line for a sixth place finish. Kenseth's run was the highest for a Joe Gibbs Racing team left with bittersweet results after Kansas. Driving the #18 M&M's Toyota in substitute for Kyle Busch, 18-year-old Xfinity Series driver Erik Jones was given his first official NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start. This drive followed a circumstance earlier this year at the Bristol Motor Speedway race with Jones entered the #11 car to replace a Denny Hamlin who had been suffering neck discomfort. In his debut, Erik Jones put on an impressive show and even led a lap. His race ended on lap 197 when his #18 lost grip.

Contact on a restart with more than 50 laps to go damaged Denny Hamlin's #11 Toyota Camry. After pitting for a new tires, a component contacting with the car's right front wheel broke. Retiring from the race, Hamlin was critical of NASCAR for not displaying the yellow flag earlier. The #19 Joe Gibbs Racing car of Carl Edwards finished a lap down in 20th place. The bright news for Joe Gibbs Racing comes as it appears Kyle Busch will be returning to his #18 ride for the upcoming Sprint Cup festivities in Charlotte.

Next on the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar is the non-points Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night on May 16th.

NASCAR Sprint Cup

Spongebob Squarepants 400

Kansas Speedway

Race Results

Position Car # Driver Sponsor/Car Make
1 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
2 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet
3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nationwide Chevrolet
4 24 Jeff Gordon American Red Cross Chevrolet
5 22 Joey Logano AAA Insurance Ford
6 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota
7 2 Brad Keselowski Avaya Ford
8 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet
9 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet
10 31 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet
11 43 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford
12 16 Greg Biffle Cheez-It/SpongeBob SquarePants Ford
13 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
14 47 AJ Allmendinger Dillon's/Scott Products Chevrolet
15 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet
16 9 Sam Hornish Jr. Medallion Bank Ford
17 5 Kasey Kahne Great Clips Chevrolet
18 27 Paul Menard Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet
19 13 Casey Mears Squidward Tentacles Chevrolet
20 19 Carl Edwards Stanley Toyota
21 15 Clint Bowyer 5-Hour Energy Toyota
22 3 Austin Dillon Dow Chevrolet
23 46 Michael Annett Allstate Peterbilt Group Chevrolet
24 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Zest Ford
25 83 Matt DiBenedetto Burger King Toyota
26 33 Ty Dillon(i) Plankton Chevrolet
27 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet
28 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Ford
29 40 Landon Cassill(i) Chevrolet
30 51 Justin Allgaier Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet
31 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford
32 38 David Gilliland MDS Ford
33 55 David Ragan SpongeBob SquarePants/Arn'sDrmMchn Toyota
34 34 Brett Moffitt # Dockside Logistics Ford
35 35 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford
36 95 Michael McDowell WRL/Larry the Lobster Ford
37 23 JJ Yeley(i) Dr Pepper Toyota
38 32 Joey Gase(i) Tri State Tower Ford
39 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
40 18 Erik Jones(i) M&M's Red Nose Day Toyota
41 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota
42 26 Jeb Burton # Maxim Fantasy Sports Toyota
43 7 Alex Bowman Accell Construction Chevrolet

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Car FYI Car of the Month April 2015: 10th Gen Honda Civic Concept

One of the last auto shows of the North American auto show circuit before spring driving weather invites us outdoors, the 2015 New York International Auto Show indicated automakers saved a few choice offerings after months of premieres and debuts. Taking a bite of the ‘Big Apple’ this year was the unveiling of Cadillac’s CT6 sedan, the new Nissan Maxima, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and the McLaren 570S. Observers of the show in New York were also treated to a vision of the returning Lincoln Continental in concept form.

With an impression could be on the road in the near future, simply look at the current roadways in Canada to gauge what was likely the most important introduction at the 2015 New York International Auto Show. The Honda Civic has earned our respect for decades in Canada just as it has across the globe. With Alliston, Ontario accounting as part of the Civic’s supply chain since the 1988 model year, the Canadian driving public has shown its appreciation by making it the best-selling car in the country for an active 17 consecutive years. In New York, a concept version of the 2016 model year Honda Civic Coupe stunned the crowd.

A popular compact car, the Honda Civic has not been without its turmoil in recent years. The ninth-generation North America Civic has received scrutiny for lacking the attraction of the previous generation models. Among one of the argued aspects of the ninth-generation model was the mildness of the exterior restyle. The styling was so unpopular that Honda undertook a considerable design retouch in 2014 (a little more than a year after the ninth-generation model debuted). Judging from the tenth-generation Civic Concept, caution has been thrown to the wind. Incorporating Honda’s new, edger front end featuring the “Flying H” grille and LED headlights, the car presented in New York boasted a longer hood. Providing a fastback-look profile, the shorter rear deck projects a faster “in motion“ appearance.


Another criticized factor in the last Civic was the slowness to acknowledge new technologies. While the car’s VTEC engines remained solid performers, the valve timing control technology is not as cutting-edge as it was in the 1990s. Today, gasoline direct injection and turbocharging is seen as the norm for vehicles running in the second decade of the 21st century. The next-generation Honda Civic will also present the first use of a turbocharged VTEC engine in North America. Considered a late entrant on the turbocharger bandwagon in the United States and Canada compared to other auto brands, at least two VTEC Turbo powerplants will be part of the 2016 model year Civic. A powerplant line-up constructed around Honda’s Earth Dream Technology geared towards efficiency. Gasoline direct injection will also be a part of the 2016 Civic. A continuously variable transmission and a short-shifting six-speed manual transmission will be paired with the latest VTEC powerplants. Other non-powerplant-related technologies that will be offered on the 2016 Honda Civic includes Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and a multi-angle rearview camera.

When the 10th generation Honda Civic enters production, a sedan, coupe and a five-door hatchback body style will be available. It is not entirely clear if the hatchback will be coming to Canada but it is confirmed for the US. The Civic Si immediately returns while a high-performance Type R is planned. Production of the Coupe, sedan and Si models will continue to take place in Canada at the Alliston manufacturing plant.

Photos supplied by Honda

Monday, May 4, 2015

Pacesetter for Fuel Cell Technology: Toyota Mirai Passes NASCAR Test

In NASCAR jargon, the term 'fuel cell' is applied to the protective cocoon created in the 1960s to contain fuel. In the scientific and engineering field, a fuel cell is seen as the future powerplant with a keen focus on automobiles. A system of panels that converts the reaction of separated hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy, the technology has been heavily pursued by some automakers such as General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Honda. Last year, Toyota introduced to the world their first fuel cell-powered production vehicle called the Mirai (meaning future in Japanese). When the Sprint Cup Series' Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway took place on April 26th, the NASCAR circuit was better acquainted with the science and technology resulting in the future fuel cell.

Ahead of its sales introduction later this year (starting in California), the 2016 Toyota Mirai accepted pace car duties becoming the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to acquire that honour. Slightly longer than the Toyota Camry sedan, the 2016 Mirai is a four-passenger sedan's unique look and powerplant made an immediate statement in performing its duties at the Virginia three-quarter mile track. Undergoing an evaluation and approval process through NASCAR prior to the race, the specially-marked 2016 Toyota Mirai pace car only significant upgrade was a light bar.

Turning hydrogen stored in two pressurized tanks into electrical energy, the 3.1 kW/L fuel cell of the Mirai generates roughly 151 horsepower. Taking five minutes to refuel with hydrogen fuel, the Toyota Mirai's fuel capacity is enough for a traveling distance of 300 miles. In pace car trim, the Mirai stood the test against lasting through the initial pace laps and 53 laps of caution over the course of the Toyota Owners 400. Able to move from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 9 seconds, the mid-sized Mirai's performance is comparable to similar gasoline-powered sedans.

Toyota's Mirai was the second time a vehicle producing zero hazardous emissions paced an event at Richmond International Raceway. In 2012, Ford Motor Company supplied a Focus Electric for the spring NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the short track.

Images supplied by Toyota Motor Sales Inc.