Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jeff Gordon to Don Iconic Rainbow Warrior Persona One Final Time in Bristol

Photo Credit: Axalta


When Jeff Gordon debuted in NASCAR Cup Series competition in the final race in 1992, it was difficult to miss the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Under sponsorship of DuPont Performance Coatings, the stock car not only wore the name of the popular paint company but its product. A multi-colour paint scheme accompanied by rainbows on the hood and side panels proved innovatively eye-catching in a period when the majority of professional stock car teams relied largely on a single colour. Created by now-famed motorsport artist Sam Bass, DuPont, Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon gained immediate notoriety. The #24 DuPont Chevrolet rainbow paint design's initial dazzle was eventually met with equally stunning performances on the track by the driver that would become one of the most winningest competitors in the NASCAR Cup Series.

A memorable part of Jeff Gordon's stock car racing career, the Rainbow paint scheme will make one final appearance as part of the driver's final year of competition on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. Thanks to Axalta Coating Systems (the company once known as DuPont Performance Coatings prior to 2013), Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports-owned 2015 Chevrolet SS will wear the famous colouring for August's race at Bristol Motor Speedway. “We could not be more thrilled to see the rainbow paint scheme hit the track one more time under the lights in Thunder Valley. It will be a tribute to our long history with Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 Team at Hendrick Motorsports. We owe it to fans and our long-time customers who love the sport.” said Axalta's vice president and head of North American business Nigel Budden. Driver Jeff Gordon responded, “It’s cool this paint scheme will appear on the No. 24 Axalta Chevy SS one more time,” realizing how popular the Rainbow colouring is with fans.

The upcoming Saturday night race on August 22nd will be the last chance to see Jeff Gordon behind the wheel his #24 car with the Rainbow scheme. Worn on his race car for the majority of his career between 1992 and 2000, the Rainbow car and the efforts of the pit crew known as the "Rainbow Warriors" stood in victory with Gordon 52 times including twice for the Daytona 500. Two Cup Series championships also resulted during the period of the multi-colour DuPont paint scheme.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Shelby Super Snake Slithers into 2015 Mustang GT's Skin

Photo Credit Shelby American Inc.



The Super Snake’s legend was spawned in 1967 when two Shelby Cobras were heavily converted into world-beating high-performance machines. The key modification for the Cobra Super Snake was the addition of two turbochargers to the 427 cubic-inch Ford V-8 engine producing would was estimated to be around 800 horsepower. Projected to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 3.2 seconds and capable of traveling at speeds up to 190 miles per hour, the roadster proved too hot to hold and was never commercially available. In 2007, the Super Snake nameplate has been given a second life as an enhanced version of the GT500 and GT500KR. With the arrival of the Ford Mustang’s sixth generation model, Shelby has made the ultra powerful reptilian an even greater predator.

Shelby’s all-new 2015 Super Snake slithers to new heights in street-legal Ford Mustang performance. Based off the Mustang GT, the 2015 Shelby Super Snake is cosmetically treated inside and out with racier components. Carbon fiber is used in abundance on the Super Snake. Sculpting a special hood, carbon Fiber construction has also given shape to the front splitter, mirror cap covers, rear spoiler and rear fascia diffuser. The billet aluminum grille of the Super Snake is offered in a choice of aluminum or black colouring. Weld Racing 20-inch one-piece forged wheels are also presented with a shiny or darker appearance option matched with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Unique Super Snake badging is found around the modified Mustang with grille and side emblems being the most transparent. The traditional Shelby striping is also included on the 2015 Super Snake.

Inside the 2015 Shelby Super Snake, carbon fiber treatment migrates into the gauge pod cluster. Back lit doorsill plates, floor mats and headrest covers are stylistic advertisements to the high-performance Shelby package. Owners seated in the 2015 Super Snake will also find a CSM numbered dash plaque as a proud certification to their purchase. Optional interior trim equipment includes a Katzkin interior package, race seats and even a roll cage with 5-point racing-style harness.

Steadier on its feet than the average 2015 Mustang, the Super Snake is fitted with a standard six-piston front brakes supplied by Wilwood with four-piston rear brakes available. Added Ford Performance accessories consisting of a handling pack, half shafts as well as an exhaust system complement the meaner mergence of a horse and snake.

Having already invigorated January with the 2016 GT350 Mustang and GT350R backed by engines producing in excess of 500 horsepower, the historic performance tuner Shelby has taken the Ford pony car’s aggression to a level that would cause some to question the sanity of motorists. Buyers can opt for two levels of the 2015 Shelby Super Snake. Belting a Ford Performance supercharger to the 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 engine generating over 650 horsepower, the 2015 Shelby Super Snake 650+ HP is a thundering modified Mustang almost equalling the power of the 2014 Shelby GT500. If the power from a Ford Performance supercharger does not satisfy you, maybe a Whippie and Kenne Bell supercharger providing the Super Snake with over 750 horsepower will prove more exciting. The peak-performance 750+ HP Super Snake is equipped with a full array of cooling technology. An upgraded cooling package is joined by a cooler for the differential and transmission. The four-piston Wilwood rear brakes are included standard on the 750+ HP 2015 Shelby Super Snake as is a brake duct kit.

Along with a six-speed manual gearbox, this new version of the Ford Mustang-based Shelby Super Snake will be the first to be available with an automatic transmission. Ironically, the first two Super Snakes built on the AC Cobra were equipped with automatic transmissions out of fear a twin-turbocharged engine would burn out the clutch of a manual gearbox with 1960s technology.

Pricing for the Super Snake packages from Shelby does not include the 2015 Ford Mustang GT required for the build. In American dollars, the 650+ HP model of the 2015 Shelby Super Snake upgrade costs $49,999. The 750+ HP version of the radical Shelby requires just $5,000 extra. With a starting price just within supercar territory (between $85,000 and $90,000), the 2015 Super Snake’s exclusivity will be aided by Shelby. Starting with 2015, production of the Super Snake is limited to 300 vehicles per year.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Ram 1500 Rebel and 1500 Laramie Limited Canadian Pricing Announced

Ram 1500 Rebel Pickup Truck
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


When connecting with Canadian motorists, we certainly love our pickup trucks. In the case of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the full-sized Ram pickup trucks sold under the Ram brand is, by almost every definition, the workhorse for the auto company. The half-ton version Ram 1500 pickup truck possesses powerful towing and hauling capacity from innovative yet potent engines such as the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, 5.7-liter Hemi V8 as well as the recently-added EcoDiesel V6 engine. Important to the Canadian arm of FCA, the vehicle is a high-selling product. In the first five months of 2015, the Ram pickup line accounted for 37,572 in sales dwarfing the Jeep Cherokee as well as the Chrysler 200 Sedan.

With the success of the EcoDiesel V6 engine last year, the Ram brand has gained encouragement to expand into deeper niches with their full-sized truck line-up. During the 2015 auto show season, the world was introduced to the Ram 1500 Rebel off-road warrior 4x4. A challenger to the Ford F-150 Raptor, the 1500 Rebel features 33-inch Toyo tires and standard skid plates. About a month after the 2015 North American International Auto Show introduction of the Ram 1500 Rebel, a new version of the luxury-appointed crew cab debuted in February in the form of the 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited. Forged aluminum wheels as well as an interior featuring a new console bin and Black Argento wood trim are notable on the Laramie Limited model. Both new models of the Ram 1500 are characterized with unique grilles.

For the Canadian market, pricing for the two distinct versions of the Ram 1500 line has been released in time for mid-year sales. Starting price tag for the Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab will be $51,895. Available only with four-wheel drive, the Ram 1500 Rebel will be matched with the Pentastar V6 as well as the HEMI V8 powerplant that is offered at a cost of $53,195.

The new Laramie Limited models will come as both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive versions offered with either the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 or the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6. With a starting price of $59,995 for the HEMI powered 4x2 model, the 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited is almost $8,500 more expensive than the currently available Laramie Limited it is replacing. With the EcoDiesel V6 engine, cost for the 1500 Laramie Limited 4x2 is $63,845 while the 4x4 will be priced at $67,845.

Prices of the 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel and 1500 Laramie Limited do not include a $1,695 destination charge.

 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Porsche Purrs to 17th Overall Le Mans Victory

Photo Credit: Porsche


For the 83rd time in history, sophisticated sports cars arrived in France for the ultimate daylong test of endurance and stamina. The 24 hours of Le Mans on the Circuit de la Sarthe delivered a fair share of surprises, disappointment and the eventual celebration for winners of the four classes of racing. As is often the case, the LMP1 class earned a great deal of attention as high-tech cars generating what is estimated to be around 1,000 horsepower. Faster than the other racing classes at Le Mans, the LMP1 category winner would also be almost guaranteed to be the overall race winner. Becoming a fight reserved for two German brands Audi and Porsche, the race saw new norms displaced by old norms.

Returning to the top class at Le Mans last year with the 919 Hybrid, Porsche’s effort in 2014 came with a best run of 11th place for the team. Having taken overall race victories in 16 24 Hours of Le Mans races in history (first in 1970 and the last in 1998), Team Porsche took 12 months to refine their gasoline/electric propelled package in time for this year race on the 13.629-kilometer French circuit. Just one year after the lukewarm comeback, Team Porsche fielded a winning performance in the 2015 race. With a one-lap advantage, the #19 Porsche 919 Hybrid completed 395 laps and a distance of more than 5,383 kilometers. A driving consisting of current Formula 1 pilot Nico Hulkenberg, 24-year-old New Zealander Earl Bamber and former Porsche Supercup driver Nick Tandy. “The pace was really high, and not what you would expect from endurance racing. Especially at night when the temperatures came down a bit, the car was fantastic to drive. Of course, I didn’t think I would come here and rock ’n’ roll this race, this would be silly because there are so many challenges in that race. However, we did it and we did it together.” said Hulkenberg. Andreas Seidi, Team Principal for the Porsche effort commented, “It is hard to find words because it is just so difficult to believe we have done that. It is a fantastic reward for the tough work the team did here on the race track and back home in Weissach over the last three and a half years. We knew we were a lot better prepared than last year, but no way could we expect this result."


Along with the race win, Team Porsche celebrated a 1-2 finish. The #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid wheeled by Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley was the second-place machine. 25-year-old Hartley explained, “On the final lap I had tears in my eyes. We have all been working so hard for this result. Stepping onto the podium was a dream come true. It is unbelievable. I’m very proud that two Porsches have won. I feel happy for every single person here.” Brake stability issues and two off-track trips for the #18 919 Hybrid prevented a full Porsche podium but still finished fifth.


Photo Credit: Porsche


Favoured for victory ahead of the 2015 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was the Audi Sport Team Joest operation with their R18 e-tron quattro. Since 2000, Audi prototype machines has missed out on victory on just two occasions (one of those times was a victory by the Bentley Speed 8 built using input from Audi engineering under the umbrella of parent company Volkswagen Group). Even as qualifying demonstrated decisive for Porsche, the 2014 race saw Audi emerge with superior race pace and reliability.

During the race, Audi Sport Team Joest team possessed one notable advantage. The #8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro in the hands of Lucas di Grassi recorded a 345.6 kilometers per hour (214.745 miles per hour) maximum speed on lap 74 of the race. This time compares commandingly to the best top speed effort of 340.2 kilometer per hour from the #17 Porsche. The R18 e-tron quattro race cars claimed ownership of the top-three spots in the top speed category of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the fastest points of the Circuit de la Sarthe, Audi race machines could be roughly 2 to 5 kilometers per hour quicker than the Porsche 919 Hybrids. The extra speed allowed the drivers of the Audi Sport Team Joest cars to deliver a meaningful challenge to the Porsches during the early half of the endurance race.

What ultimately cost Audi a chance at its 14th victory in 16 attempts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was a series of mistakes. The #8 car was involved in an accident early but continued to circulate the track on-route to a fourth place result. Early Sunday morning cost the remaining two Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 cars the chance at victory. Bodywork problems on the #7 Audi Sport Team Joest car required a nearly seven-minute unscheduled stop. As for the #9 car, a hybrid system issue began to spout and would eventually need a 17-minute repair to fix a front left drive shaft. In the end, the #7 team was still able to hold on to a third-place spot allowing Audi to extend their podium streak at Le Mans to 17 consecutive races.


Photo Credit: Audi Motorsport



In contrast to Audi, the Porsche Team effort in the race featured much fewer flaws. The Porsche 919 Hybrid’s efficiency emerged as the key ingredient to a winning formula at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans. Each Porsche prototype race car required 30 pit stops over the 24 hours of competition.

While Audi and Porsche battled for the race win at the 24-hour race, Toyota Racing experienced a long, quiet event. Choosing to field only two TS040 Hybrid race cars, Toyota is represented in 6th and 8th place at the end of competition at Le Mans. A win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans continues to elude Toyota.

Campaigning an all-new car at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, Nissan admits that their GT-R LM NISMO was operating within the infancy stage of development. Fielding three of the radically styled and engineered front-wheel drive LMP1 entrants, the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO failed to classify in the final results in its debut. The #22 GT-R LM NISMO machine did make it to the chequered flag completing 242 laps. The Nissan GT-R LM NISMO will take part in the 2015 FIA WEC.



KCMG Scores Commanding LMP2 Class Win


The LMP2 class has often been a hotly contended battle of survival at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year’s competition in the slower prototype car class was an exception. It was domination by the #47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan shared by Richard Bradley, Matthew Howson and Nicolas Lapierre on the leaderboard Starting at the front of the class, the KCMG held the top spot in LMP2 for almost the entire 24-hour distance. At the end, the winner of the category finished 48.182 seconds ahead of the JOTA Sport entry.

While Nissan’s efforts in the LMP1 category are defined with difficulty, the LMP2 class gave the Japanese brand a lot to cheer about. The top-six finishers used Nissan 4.5-liter V-8 powerplants derived from the production-based VK engine family.

 

 

Corvette Racing and SMP Racing Victors in LM-GTE Categories


Running production-based sports cars, the LM-GTE Pro and LM-GTE Am category at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans provided a sensational show. At the end of 24 hours of racing, LM-GTE featured a Pro class winning team that overcame race weekend adversity and an Amateur class in the right place at the right time.

Corvette Racing suffered a setback in Thursday qualifying when the team lost the #63 C7.R in a massive qualifying accident. A mechanical problem led to driver Jan Magnussen crashing in the Porsche Curves. Magnussen was unhurt but the GTE-Pro entry was withdrawn due to extensive damage. The sole #64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R started deep in the field on Saturday but quickly elevated itself into contention. Leading for the first time on lap 42, Corvette Racing’s effort was countered by Aston Martin Racing’s Vantage V8 and AF Corse’s Ferrari 458 Italias.

It was a fierce battle through the midpoint of the 24-hour race but the #64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R shared by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor would pull away in the second-half of the race to a five-lap victory in the LM-GTE Pro class. The first win for the Corvette C7.R at Le Mans was Corvette Racing’s first since the 2011 race.

In LM-GTE Am, a class victory seemed locked-up for the #98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 heading into the final hour of the endurance race. Misfortunate for the lead LM-GTE Am car awaited in the last hour of the 24-hour race as an accident on track sent the #98 machine into retirement. The late development promoted the SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia to lead and victory in the class. Aleksey Basov, Andrea Bertolini and Viktor Shaitar were drivers of the winning #72 car.

Monday, June 15, 2015

IndyCar Race Review: Newgarden Storms to Victory During Wet Honda Indy Toronto

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

The auto racing equivalent of the David versus Goliath story has taken place in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series. Late last year, two small teams of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing merged to form CFH Racing. Able to campaign as a multi-car team, CFH Racing has still been perceived as lacking the resources of major teams such as Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing. However, earlier this year, young American driver Josef Newgarden drove the team's #67 car to victory at Barber Motorsport Park. At the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto, CFH Racing proved that perhaps a David effort has Goliath strength.

While the 1.755-mile race course along the Canadian waterfront remained the same, the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto contained several changes compared to event of other recent years. Bumped from its typical July date by Toronto's hosting of the 2015 Pan-Am Games, the Honda Indy's temporary course was shaped a month ahead of the international sport event. Operating on a single-race format (a departure from the double-header races of the past two years), there would be only a single opportunity for the 23-car field of Verizon IndyCar Series to battle.

The last time drivers and teams of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series matched wits on a street course, it was an experience that saw some reach their wits end. Belle Isle in Detroit two weeks ago challenged teams twice with tight quarters racing and inclement weather led to a total of 13 caution periods during the weekend of racing. Returning to temporary street course racing, the open wheel racing series arrived in Toronto for the Honda Indy with similar weather conditions as the Belle Isle event weekend. As Sunday afternoon rain drenched the 1.755-mile, the question remained whether the Honda Indy Toronto would be the site of more carbon fiber carnage.


Photo Credit: Chris Jones

The 29th running of the race on the streets of Toronto, this year's race was the first not to involve a Canadian driver in the main event due to the injury of James Hinchcliffe in a practice crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2015 Honda Indy Toronto did appease the patriot nature people in the well-packed Canadian grandstands by making the Oakville, Ontario native the grand marshal of this year's race. Hinchcliffe's appearance at the race track was a welcomed sight through the weekend.

Taking pole on dry track Saturday, Will Power and his #1 Verizon-sponsored Team Penske Chevrolet powered race car started ahead of teammate Simon Pagenaud's vehicle for the 85-lap Sunday main event. Taking green on the still damp street course, Power roars at the sight of the green flag putting a quick gap on Pagenaud. Power and Pagenaud had a spirited bout early at the front of the field but the advantage always remained with the #1 car.

While all competitors utilized wet weather Firestone tires at the beginning of the Honda Indy Toronto, several teams quickly shifted to slick tires. Marco Andretti and the #27 Andretti Autosport team was an early adopter pitting on lap 8. Starting in 18th place, Andretti was almost lapped by Power early but pulled away from the leader when the slick tires came to temperature.

For those expecting the circumstances of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle to be repeated on the streets of Toronto, there would be disappointment. On only two occasions was the Honda Indy on Sunday by a full course yellow. The first came on lap 29 after James Jakes nosed his #7 car into the turn 5 tire barrier.


Photo Credit: Chris Jones

Having led the full distance of the race up to the caution, Will Power lost the lead to Penske teammate Helio Castroneves who was left on the track race under direction of the team's owner. The #18 car of Dale Coyne Racing driven by rookie Rodolfo Gonzalez also attempted a similar strategy to gain position to the front of the field. Gonzalez would later lead 5 laps at the Honda Indy before falling to 18th at the end of the race. On the lap 32 restart, Castroneves' #3 car bolted to the front leaving behind teammate Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. At one point more than five seconds ahead, the Brazilian driver's lead evaporated on lap 40 due to debris from the slowing #4 car of Stefano Coletti. Coletti would be one of two drivers not to be running at the end of the IndyCar race in Toronto. The other retirement being Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Manoz claimed by a mechanical problem after 69 laps.

As Helio Castroneves pitted out of sync with the rest of the field, the lead of the 2015 Honda Indy was turned over to Josef Newgarden. From lap 42, Newgarden held the top spot on the street circuit for 16 laps before turning the lead over to teammate Luca Filippi during the #67 car's green flag pit stop. Filippi would lead his first laps in IndyCar in the #20 machine before the Italian relinquishing the spot for his final pit service for the day. After Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Rodolfo Gonzalez led for brief periods, Newgarden reclaimed the lead of the race on lap 72.


Photo Credit: Chris Jones



In the final laps, Josef Newgarden pushed his #67 to fast lap after fast lap setting his personal-best of the race on lap 80. The Tennessee native maintained his controlled aggression even as a drizzle over the track made the surface a little damper. By 1.4485 seconds over teammate Luca Filippi, Newgarden took his second career race victory. Reflecting on his team's 1-2 finish at the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto, Newgarden commented in post-race, "I'm super happy for the whole group. Just an amazing team effort - I can't believe we had a 1-2. It got a little close there with Luca, but we were really just trying to keep up after we got into the final stint. I got a little bit of lapped traffic, but I couldn't do anything with the lapped traffic, but they wanted me to because of everyone that was coming. It's close racing and, for sure, I got a little lucky, too, on that yellow. But you can't discount that because it was an amazing effort by this crew at CFH Racing." Josef Newgarden's win came after an 11th place starting spot. For Luca Filippi who is assigned to run the road course races in the #20 CFH Racing car, the result is the Italian driver's best in 16 IndyCar starts.  

Despite the long-running success of Team Penske, the Roger Penske-backed organization has only won the Toronto race twice (1993 with Paul Tracy and 2010 with Will Power). Operating with a unique pit strategy in the midpoint of the Honda Indy, Helio Castroneves came home in third place receiving the final podium position. Pole winner Will Power came across the line in fourth place reflecting on the event in post-race as a "championship type day" in maximizing points. With Juan Pablo Montoya settling for seventh, Power gained 8 points on Montoya in the overall Verizon IndyCar Series championship. A 27-point is now in place between first and second in the 2015 championship after 10 races.

Results after the Honda Indy Toronto continues to illustrate a difficult season for Honda. The highest-ranked Honda-powered race car was wheeled by Graham Rahal. Despite some brave and spirited passing, Rahal and the #15 car settled for a 9th place run. A second Honda-powered machine driven by AJ Foyt Racing pilot Takuma Sato took the 10th spot at the line.



2015 Honda Indy Toronto

Verizon IndyCar Series

Race Results


Pos # Car # Driver Engine
1 67 Josef Newgarden Chevrolet
2 20 Luca Filippi Chevrolet
3 3 Helio Castroneves Chevrolet
4 1 Will Power Chevrolet
5 11 Sebastien Bourdais Chevrolet
6 10 Tony Kanaan Chevrolet
7 2 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet
8 9 Scott Dixon Chevrolet
9 15 Graham Rahal Honda
10 14 Takuma Sato Honda
11 22 Simon Pagenaud Chevrolet
12 5 Conor Daly Honda
13 27 Marco Andretti Honda
14 41 Jack Hawksworth Honda
15 98 Gabby Chaves Honda
16 8 Sebastian Saavedra Chevrolet
17 19 Tristan Vautier Honda
18 18 Rodolfo Gonzalez Honda
19 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Honda
20 83 Charlie Kimball Chevrolet
21 7 James Jakes Honda
22 26 Carlos Munoz Honda
23 4 Stefano Coletti Chevrolet



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Canadian Content for 2015 Honda Indy Toronto Reaches Historic Low

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


For the 29th time, the streets of Toronto around the Exhibition Place is surrounded by concrete barriers serving as the layout for a fantastic motor racing spectacle. Starting Friday, the Honda Indy Toronto will have high-powered race engines roaring alongside the shoreline of Lake Ontario. The regular presence of the Toronto auto racing stop has been a testament to the vitality of motorsports in Canada. Sporting a familiar temporary street course that has underwent only minor changes since the inaugural 1986 event, the race remains the sight for a premier American open wheel racing series. The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Toronto bringing a close, contentious driver's championship with it. For 2015, the race reverts to the single-race format after a two-year experiment with a double-header style schedule. For Canadian race fans, the race remains the only opportunity for race fans to see the open wheel racing series in person without crossing the border.

The 2015 Honda Indy Toronto does arrive with some rather noticeable changes. The first being the event rescheduling in the middle of June instead of its usual July date. Done to accommodate the 2015 Pan-Am Games set to hosted in the Queen City, the effort to hold this summer tradition is appreciated by Canadian motorsport enthusiasts (even if it is before summer actually begins this year). Another change of routine at the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto will come due to an unfortunate circumstance and a troubling trend. For the first time in the race's history, no Canadian drivers are expected to be present in the main event race (IndyCar/CART/Champ Car competition).

The unfortunate component to the Canadian driver picture is thankfully mixed with a positive outcome. James Hinchcliffe, the only regular Canadian driver competing on the Verizon IndyCar Series for 2015, was building towards a productive season having won the Grand Prix of Louisiana in only his second race with his new team of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. At Indianapolis Motor Speedway prepping for the Indy 500, Hinchcliffe's car suffered a suspension failure that sent him hard into the wall. Sustaining serious injuries minimized by no small effort by the responsive safety crew, the entire motorsport world and his country of Canada were highly relieved that Hinchcliffe survived with his good spirits intact. With a long recovery process that puts a slim chance to returning to the race car this season, James Hinchcliffe will miss competing in the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto. A fondly cherished event for Hinchcliffe since childhood, he has referred to the race as Christmas. In a relief role for the Honda Indy Toronto, Conor Daly will pilot Hinchcliffe's #5 car.

With James Hinchcliffe out of competition for this Honda Indy Toronto, a problem has become evident in Canadian motorsports. Speaking earlier about the vitality of Canadian motorsports in past years, I can't help to be worried if we are reaching an age of extinction in regards to the support structure of auto racing in this country. Not only is there no Canadian drivers in the IndyCar competition this weekend, the puny 11-car entry list (as of June 8th) for the Indy Lights race has no drivers from Canada. After starting the 2015 season with the Indy Lights Series, British Columbia's Scott Hargrove saw his development cut abruptly short by his team (he will be competing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada race this weekend). Besides the Canadian Touring Car Championship and Porsche GT3 Cup Canada support series, there will be three Canadian in the Pro Mazda Championship (Garett Grist, Dalton Kellett and Daniel Burkett) as well as James Dayson and rookie standout Parker Thompson competing in USF2000.

A glass ceiling is keeping Canadian drivers out of the higher echelons of motorsport in North America. Whether its money, lack of support or other reasons, the good time appeared to have ended some time ago in Canada for auto racing competitors. In the 1990s, there was Jacques Villeneuve, Paul Tracy and the late Greg Moore that obtained superstar status inside as well as outside this country. There was so much talent in Canada that some drivers such as Claude Bourbonnais, David Empringham, Lee Bentham, Andrew Bordin and performed at a championship level but were never able to make a big step due to other great Canadian drivers at the time. There was a time where drivers wearing the maple leaf flag could gain notoriety In Canada or North America.  Several promising Canadian racers need to venture to Europe to gain recognition for their skills. Lance Stroll and Luke Chudleigh are two recent young stars choosing the European path.  

Maybe this is just a time in Canadian motorsport history where we just have to wait a little bit longer for developing talent to emerge in the grander spotlight. 17-year-old Parker Thompson is competing in his rookie season with the USF2000 Series but is showing himself as a quick learner. Hopefully this year's absence of Canadians in the Honda Indy Toronto's big race will be one-time deal.


Canadian Drivers Participating in Honda Indy Toronto IndyCar/CART/Champ Car Race from 1986 to 2014


1986: 1- Jacques Villeneuve Sr.
1987: 2- Scott Goodyear, Ludwig Heimrath Jr.
1988: 2- Ludwig Heimrath Jr., John Jones
1989: 2- Scott Goodyear, Ludwig Heimrath Jr., John Jones
1990: 1- Scott Goodyear
1991: 2- Scott Goodyear, John Jones
1992: 3- Ross Bentley, Scott Goodyear, Paul Tracy
1993: 2- Ross Bentley, Scott Goodyear, Paul Tracy
1994: 4- Ross Bentley, Scott Goodyear, Paul Tracy, Jacques Villeneuve
1995: 2- Paul Tracy, Jacques Villeneuve
1996: 3- Scott Goodyear, Greg Moore, Paul Tracy
1997: 3- Patrick Carpentier, Greg Moore, Paul Tracy
1998: 3- Patrick Carpentier, Greg Moore, Paul Tracy
1999: 3- Patrick Carpentier, Greg Moore, Paul Tracy
2000: 3- Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2001: 3- Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2002: 3- Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2003: 3- Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2004: 3- Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2005: 3- Andrew Ranger, Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2006: 2- Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2007: 2- Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy

2008: No Race Due to IndyCar/Champ Car Reunification
2009: 2- Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2010: 2- Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2011: 3- James Hinchcliffe, Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy
2012: 2- James Hinchcliffe, Alex Tagliani
2013: 2- James Hinchcliffe, Alex Tagliani
2014: 1- James Hinchcliffe

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Steve Arpin Strikes Silver at 2015 Summer X Games in Austin




While motorsports fail to gain the respect to be included with the Olympics, Commonwealth or Pan-Am Games, the maverick athletic spirit of the X Games has given representation to motorized warriors. For this year's Summer X Games in Austin, Texas, Competitors on motorcycles or riding inside Stadium Super Trucks and RallyCross cars get the opportunity to claim a top-three medal in a chosen event. In RallyCross, drivers from the Red Bull Rallycross series suited-up for the 2015 edition of the Summer X Games. Just a week after their official 2015 season started, the X Games event provided no points towards the Red Bull Rallycross' championship but was heavily battled. After Saturday's finals, Canada has a reason proudly celebrate the results.

Fort Frances, Ontario's Steve Arpin drove to a silver medal in the RallyCross final round on the .562-mile track within the Circuit of the America's complex. Having to aggressively fight his way through a Last Chance Qualifying heat to enter the main event, the Chip Ganassi Racing-owned Ford Fiesta ST in the Canadian driver's hands stayed out of trouble to cross the line in second place. Being the driver's first X Games podium, Arpin's in delivered the first medal performance by a Canadian in the RallyCross competition of the X Games in Austin, Texas this past weekend.

Steve Arpin finished within a second of gold medal winner Scott Speed's Volkswagen Beetle. For Speed and Andretti RallyCross, they defended their gold medal performance of last year's X Games. Following the Gold medal performance, Speed responded, “The final race was the most gratifying of my career from the fact that it took so much work, not just from myself, but from the entire Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team,”. Claiming the Bronze medal honours, Swedish driver Sebastian Eriksson fought hard by soldiering to the finish on a flat left-rear tire. For Eriksson's race team Olsbergs MSE, it is the organization's 23rd medal in X Games competition.    

For Chip Ganassi Racing in their first X Games RallyCross competition, the result was impressive for a debut. In addition to Steve Arpin's Silver medal, Brian Deegan made his debut in the team's second Ford Fiesta ST and finished fourth in the final round. In another part of Texas during the same weekend, superteam owner Chip Ganassi watched as his IndyCar driver Scott Dixon went to victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The 2015 Red Rull Rallycross season resumes competition on June 20th at Daytona International Speedway. 


Photo Credit: Olsbergs MSE

New Chevrolet Cruze to be Unveiled to North America on June 24th



A compact car that delivered a big gain for General Motors, the Cruze finally gave the American-based automaker an economy car that would go one-on-one with global leaders such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla or the Ford Focus. An intense dedication to solid engineering and safety (including ten standard airbags) has made the car a proud, solid transition that replaced 15 other compact cars in the worldwide General Motors portfolio prior to 2008. As well as attempting to foster a better image of compact cars under Chevrolet in North America, the Cruze has actively been involved in building the global impression for the brand in markets Chevrolet wasn't previously a household name. As of mid-2015, over 3.5 million Cruze compact cars have been sold worldwide

On June 24th, the second-generation Chevrolet Cruze is set to make its debut. Promising a larger yet lighter version of the economy car, the 2016 model year Cruze pledges to build on the successes of the outgoing compact sedan. New powertrains and technology will also be part of the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze. One such detail presented of the 2016 Cruze ahead of its introduction is both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay availability. While a new Chevrolet Cruze sedan is almost guaranteed, a different body styles such as a hatchback or wagon version of the car has yet to be seen in North American. It's unclear if North American audiences will Reports from Chevrolet has effectively killed the prospect of a two-door Cruze (the 2016 addition of a four-cylinder powered Camaro has been viewed an acceptable provision to the market).

In China, a new Cruze has already appeared (shown below) exhibiting a more streamlined exterior adhering to a 0.28 drag coefficient. The Chinese version of the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and 1.4-liter turbocharged powerplant from the General Motors Ecotec engine family. a dual-clutch transmission is also being marketed on the Chinese-sold 2016 Cruze. It's unclear how much styling or engineering inspiration Chevrolet will apply to the North American version of the 2016 Cruze. From the teaser image of the American Cruze, there does appear to be a slight chrome treatment between the headlamp and grille not seen on the car for China. Also according to specs, the Chevrolet Cruze offered in China is actually smaller than the previous-generation whereas the North American has stated being larger.





Another new Chevrolet? Yes indeed! In the first six months of 2015, Chevrolet has been aggressive in reshaping their product line-up in bold, modern style and technologies. The bowtie revitalization started with a new version of their plug-in hybrid Volt in January. Following the Chevrolet Volt, major 2016-model year refreshes of the Equinox and Malibu appeared. Last month, the performance-seeking Chevrolet loyalists received a gift in the form of the all-new Camaro. By 2016, Chevrolet pledges that more than 95 percent of their model line will be less than three years old.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Buy a Trump Penthouse in Toronto, Get a Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce Wraith

Buying a new home or condo, competitive sellers will often try to sweeten the deal by offering something extra. Appliances, gift cards and even a television can be included with a closing of a sale. When it comes to selling some of the most expensive high-rise residences in Toronto, the incentive for a high-class buyer receives an item worth as much as family homes in most of Canada. Trump Residences Toronto has entered into a marketing partnership with the top marque of the luxury car market that includes an eye-catching premium being associated with up to four penthouses.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Toronto and the Trump Residences Toronto have joined forces in delivering the full luxury treatment instantly to new property buyers. For as many as four penthouse units, the luxury residence will offer purchasers the inclusion of a Rolls-Royce. A Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II sedan or a Rolls-Royce Wraith coupe will be offered to the penthouse buyer with the property. The new residents receiving a Rolls-Royce are going to be provided the opportunity to tailor their car to their tastes. The luxury vehicle is by no means a refrigerator or flat screen television. In Canada, the retail price for the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II starts at around $286,750 while the Wraith's price tag is $294,025.




 "a brand synonymous with wealth, status, prestige and perfection. It's only fitting that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Toronto align itself with Trump Residences Toronto, recognized as one of the finest residences currently on the market in Canada" said president of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Toronto Paul Cummings. President and CEO of Talon International Development Inc. and Talon Luxury Collection Neil Labatte commented on the partnership saying, "As the developer of the city's premiere luxury address, Trump Residences Toronto, Talon International Development Inc. aims to continually provide our purchasers and residents with unparalleled services and exclusive incentives reflective of the premium Trump brand,"

For those who are curious, published reports have put the costs of some penthouses within the Trump Residences Toronto at around 9.4 million dollars. Last year, the 11,755 square-foot 58-story so-called "super penthouse" was listed on the market for 33 million dollars.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo Delights Button-Mashing Mopar Fans

Photo Credit: FCA Flickr/ Sony Computer Entertainment


Approaching the summer time in the northern hemisphere, it is approaching the period (a frightening short one in Canada) where automotive enthusiasts can delight in the perfect weather for outdoor auto shows and other events. The sunny, warm days serve as the invitation for rolling eye candy to stroll out of garages. While summer provides a much more inviting time of year than winter, there is the inevitable days of rain or excessive heat. Perhaps a video game took help pass the time? For Sony Playstation 3 gamers plugging in Gran Turismo 6, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has prepared a little something extra to bring sunshine to cloudy summer days.

First mentioned last week, SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo is now fully unveiled by FCA and Sony Computer Entertainment. A super sleek supercar, the SRT Tomahawk is the latest vehicle motivated by virtual world of the popular Gran Turismo 6 title. Designed by Tom Hoste under the guidance of Ralph Gilles, the Tomahawk's design took inspiration from the Dodge Viper and magnified it into an extreme hyper vehicle.



Photo Credit: FCA Flickr/ Sony Computer Entertainment


A single-seat vehicle powered by a hybrid powertrain, the Tomahawk will be offered in three versions on the video game auto racing platform. The experience of the SRT Tomahawk starts with the S model (the one in red and carbon black in the pictures above and below) described as the street model of this wicked virtual supercar. A lightweight version of the supercar, the SRT Tomahawk GTS-R was created as a tailored race car. The Tomahawk X (the center vehicle shown in white in the photos) is an experiment take on the design. Said to employ every advanced technology possible for making a vehicle go fast, the SRT Tomahawk X will also possess some ideas that haven't even been previously used in automobiles. Extensive active aerodynamics is evident on the Tomahawk X.


Photo Credit: FCA Flickr/ Sony Computer Entertainment

Powering the virtual vehicle is a combination of old-school horsepower and advanced hybrid technologies. A 144-degree 7.0-liter V-10 engine delivers the main performance for the SRT Tomahawk through the rear wheels. The front wheels of the Tomahawk is under the influence of a unique power system using pressurized air fueled by tanks integrated into the chassis. Total horsepower of the SRT Tomahawk varies depending on the model. Total output for the Tomahawk S 1,007 horsepower, the Tomahawk GTS-R's horsepower is 1,450 horsepower. The SRT Tomahawk X utilizes the highest of technology generates an astounding 2,590 horsepower amount.



Photo Credit: FCA


The SRT Tomahawk is construction is made possible by a composite frame. A super lightweight vehicle, the Tomahawk GTS-R weighs just 1,459 pounds. With the high-powered hybrid propulsion system, the Tomahawk promises a sensationally quick track experience. The Tomahawk S can achieve a top speed of 250 miles per hour on the track. In race trim with reduced weight, the GTS-R model can sail to over 300 miles per hour. With mammoth horsepower and superior go-fast technologies, a top speed potential of 404 mile per hour can be obtained with the Tomahawk X. Due to extreme speeds and G-force loads, the driver of the SRT Tomahawk X is required to wear a G-suit (similar to the one worn by a jet fighter aircraft pilot).

The SRT Tomahawk line will be accessible on Gran Turismo 6 this summer.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ken Block Scores Opening Round Win in 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross Season

Photo Credit: Global Rallycross Championship


Kicking off the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross, the series assembled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to start a high-flying, fast-pace 12-race calendar that also includes the non-points 2015 Summer X Games round. A series rapidly gaining traction amongst major teams, the off-season saw IndyCar/NASCAR/sports car team Chip Ganassi Racing join-up with the competition competing Canadian driver Steve Arpin for the full season for 2015. Despite the potential strength of the newcomer team, it was the experienced teams prevailing after the final round of the Fort Lauderdale event at the Bahia Mar Resort.

The ten-car finals featured a first row consisting of Ken Block, Steve Arpin and Scott Speed. At the start of the 10-lap final round, it was Block and his Ford Fiesta ST surging forward and never looked back to take the opening race. Crossing the line 3.245 seconds in the lead, Ken Block's fourth victory in the Rell Bull Global Rallycross series saw him fending off the charge of two Formula 1 veterans. Scott Speed's Andretti Rallycross Volkswagen Beetle finished second ahead of #07 Ford Fiesta ST driven by Nelson Piquet Jr. who rounded out the podium at Fort Lauderdale. “They really pushed me and our team all weekend, and it was a lot of fun. It came down to starts, and I got lucky—I got quick on the starts, was able to put some good times in, and came out with the win. It’s a great way to start the year!” said race winner Ken Block.

Chip Ganassi Racing's debut in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series delivered promising early strength that was derailed late on Sunday. Despite wins in a qualifying heat and his semi-final grouping, Arpin's run in the finals was soured by a penalty. Officials judged the #00 Ford Fiesta ST started too soon and assessed the driver time penalty that cost him a chance at a top finish in Fort Lauderdale. Arpin soldiered through the remaining nine laps to finish seventh in the finals.


Photo Credit: Volkswagen


A notable absence from the finals for the Red Bull Rallycross in Fort Lauderdale was series reigning champion Joni Wiman. After winning an initial qualifying heat, the Finnish Wiman was unable to compete in follow-up races on Sunday due to back pains suffered in a hard landing with the #31 Red Bull Olsbergs-prepped machine.

Losing the championship last season by a five-point margin, Ken Block starts the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross at the top of the series points. Block is two points ahead of Steve Arpin as the non-points X Games in Austin, Texas is next. The Red Bull Rallycross season restarts at Daytona International Speedway for two races on June 20th and June 21st.

 

2015 Fort Lauderdale Red Bull Global Rallycross Final Results 


  1. Ken Block, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST
  2. Scott Speed, #41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
  3. Nelson Piquet Jr., #07 SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST
  4. Sebastian Eriksson, #93 Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
  5. Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
  6. Austin Dyne, #14 Bryan Herta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST
  7. Steve Arpin, #00 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST
  8. Victor Gonzalez Jr., #99 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster
  9. Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
  10. Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
  11. Patrik Sandell, #18 Bryan Herta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST
  12. Joni Wiman, #31 Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST

SRT Preparing to Throw a Tomahawk into Gran Turismo 6



Through video gaming, car enthusiasts have entered an era where our automotive indulgence is achieved without being in physical connection with the actual vehicle. The realistic appearance of video game automobiles and careful emphasis on mimicking real world performance in the virtual world. Recently, popular racing game franchises provided users the opportunity to pilot new cars such as the 2015 Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the BMW M4 even before they appeared in dealerships.





While video games had often coveted presenting real, licensed vehicles in their pixelated experiences, developers' cooperation with the auto companies has transitioned. Instead of real world automobiles from popular auto makes being installed into video games, the gamer world has provided a new environment for providing life to concept cars. Since 2013, the Gran Turismo 6 game for the Sony Playstation 3 has opened the door to the designers of several major auto brands to create stylistic dreams without the usual constraints. Through what is classified as Vision cars, Mercedes-Benz was one of the first creating a special coupe for the Gran Turismo franchise. Last year, Chevrolet fused Chaparral heritage with a radical single-seat vehicle powered by a laser-based propulsion system. Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz provided a full-scale mock-up of their design as an added novelty. Soon, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will insert their own video game concept car into the Gran Turismo 6 virtual racing experience.



Providing peeks before its eventual release, FCA pledges the pictures will fully unveil a single-seat hybrid-propelled vehicle. Called the SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo, SRT will once again stand as a brand (a first since the Viper supercar's reintegration with Dodge in mid-2014). If the Tomahawk name sounds familiar to Chrysler products, it's because the name was previously used in a 2003 concept vehicle. A motorcycle-like vehicle, the Dodge Tomahawk was powered by a 500-horsepower 8.3-liter V-10 engine from the Viper.

Listed as "coming soon" by FCA, the company promises more updates leading up to the SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo's release.