Sunday, August 30, 2015

Canada's Cameron Hayley is Banging on the Tailgate of Success




This weekend marks the third time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will preside on a 2.459-mile road course known as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. A roughly one hour drive outside Toronto, this event is the truck series’ one and only stop at a road course as well as the only event held in Canada. A uniquely energetic event, the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 250 will host the talents of a uniquely Canadian teenager.

At 19 years old, Cameron Hayley emerged as a racing star from Calgary, Alberta to a rookie driver of the #13 Toyota Tundra in the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series sponsored by Carolina Nut Company and Cabinets by Hayley (a family-related steel cabinet and rack fabricator). In the 14 races so far this season, Hayley has currently captured seven top-10 finishes including 3 top-5 results. "For me to be kinda the home country favourite I guess is kinda a cool thing to go home and do.", commented Cameron Hayley is racing alongside household racing name Alex Tagliani but is the only full-time Canadian in the series. Hayley’s total of 17 races in the series has given him an appreciation of the highly competitive nature of the sport.

Arrival at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park track marks almost a full year since his debut in the Camping World Truck Series. Making his patriotic debut in the tour last year with Turner Sport Motorsports, his run for the full 2015 season in the series is undertaken with championship-winning ThorSport Racing. "Duke Thorson, the owner of Thorsport Racing has given me this opportunity. If you asked me when I was two or three years old growing up that I would ever be where I am at today coming from a small town in Canada, I would have said no. But here I am talking to you about being a Camping World Truck Series driver!" said Cameron Hayley. "I’ve accomplished a lot of my goals. I haven’t run as well as I would have liked to this year but at the same time I think we’re getting better with every race." Hayley’s best finish came earlier this month at the Pocono Raceway where he came across the line in fourth. Interestingly enough, that top result came with a 16th place starting spot (his lowest qualifying position of the 2015 season). "It’s definitely a rookie season and my first national series is a difficult thing to do." said Hayley. A difficult outcome to what was a promising race at Iowa Speedway comes to mind where the #13 truck finished two laps down in 19th position.


Photo Credit: NASCAR Media

 

Providing a fast track for the Canadian rookie is the aid of two seasoned veteran drivers in the ThorSport Racing stable. Fortunately, Hayley has two-time and reigning Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton as well as proven truck series superstar Johnny Sauter as teammates. "Matt Crafton being a two-time champion; he knows how to get it done and Johnny has multiple wins and a ton of talent. Between the two of them, they have really helped me a ton on and off the track." said Hayley. "My team that I am racing for has really helped me get over that rookie hump."

At the age of four, Hayley’s taste for motorsport was satisfied through go-karts. Elevating himself through the ranks of karting and eventually super late model stock cars, the Canadian envied NASCAR Cup series driver Jeff Gordon. "Jeff Gordon has actually been my hero ever since I was little. Ever since I was old enough to understand and know what NASCAR was. Jeff Gordon was always my driver. It’s kinda sad to see him in his final year but he has definitely given me a ton of inspiration and hopefully one day I could make his name as great as his was." said Hayley aspiring to build a driving career attaining to similar accolades as his stock car racing hero.

In 2012, Hayley was a member of the NASCAR Next 9, a collection of stock car racing’s top and brightest prospects. At the age of 15 years old at the time, the young driver who grew up in Calgary was installed in the company of Chase Elliot, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr. with the honour. At the time, the Canadian competed in the K&N Pro Series western division. The 2013 season was a breakout season for Cameron Hayley. At the beginning of the year, he won the K&N Pro Series’ Battle of the Beach race held on a 0.4-mile oval within Daytona International Speedway. Along with claiming the runner-up spot in the highly-competitive K&N Pro Series West, he also earned the Most Popular Driver Award. "It’s been a crazy year. There’s been a lot more media this year than I’ve been used to in the past. Obviously it’s just been a different coming from the K&N Pro Series to the Camping World Truck Series." said Hayley adding, "Talking to people, getting advice from them. Especially at places like Martinsville. All these braking tracks, getting braking points."


Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

  

For 2014, Cameron Hayley was picked up by Turner Scott Motorsports for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. In late August of that same year, the team gave the than 18-year-old his debut appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Starting 10th and finishing 11th, Hayley’s first time wheeling the #32 Chevrolet coming on home soil was a solid appearance. Turner Scott Motorsports was followed by two more outings by the team that both resulted with top-10 finishes.

As Cameron Hayley returns to the site that launched his career against the top tailgaters, the year his given him wisdom and insight. "I wish I told be sitting here telling you that I can go out there and get the championship (and it is still possible but we have a long ways to go to do that)." commented Hayley that remains mindful he is competing and learning lessons from drivers including Sprint Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick over the last few months.


Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images



One thing the driver of the #13 Toyota has earned is the realization to the importance for returning home. "It will be cool to go to a track that I’ve been to in my home country and I think that will help me a lot and hopefully go for that win." said Hayley gaining expertise from a Canadian stock car/road racing legend Ron Fellows." I’ve talked to Ron quite a bit and he’s definitely going to help me out this weekend. I think he’s a big name that’s come from Canada that has shown that Canadians can be good drivers."

"Being able to race in my home country, obviously the US is more populated with more NASCAR and more involvement with the fans but I think Canadian fans are just as good. I think it’s cool that NASCAR realizes that enough to a race there." Cameron Hayley says looking forward to using this weekend’s race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as a springboard for the remainder of the 2015 Camping World Truck Series seasons. "It really comes down to solid top-five performances. Starting at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, I really would like to pull together a solid streak."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Inexhaustible Smile of Driver Justin Wilson

Photo Credit: IndyCar


Monday night, sadness fell over the entire motorsport world as a competition embraced for its excitement and action claimed a great athlete. 37-year-old British driver Justin Wilson succumbed to a head injury suffered in a late-race incident at the Verizon IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway.

A penultimate round in the open wheel racing series for 2015, optimism for seeing a great battle for championship and race position was overshadowed quickly after a series of crashes proved evermore worrisome. On lap 180, a crash by leader Sage Karam into the turn 1 wall showered the track with debris. A nose cone compartment of Karam's #8 car is believed to be the piece that flew up and hit the #25 Andretti Autosport car's driver Justin Wilson in the helmet. Despite receiving swift attention from IndyCar's safety crew, the unconscious Wilson could not be revived at the scene and needed to be airlifted to an offsite hospital. Announced to be in a coma Sunday night, Justin Wilson's passing was announced at 9 pm Eastern time Monday night.

The 37-year-old British racer spent 28 years demonstrating incredible versatility behind the wheel of a vehicle. Moving from karting and eventually transitioning through the ranks of European open wheel racing, he reached the ceiling of the sport at the age of 24. He spent one full season in Formula 1 competing with two teams. Afterwards Wilson found success in American open wheel racing winning on the Champ Car World Series as well as in IndyCar. Justin Wilson will forever be remembered as a driver who battled hard simply to be part of big-time auto racing. Through every challenge he faced, a vibrant, warm personality was beamed outwards.


Photo Credit: Chris Nagy via Screenshot from Low-Res Video



At the age of 13, the future racing star was diagnosed with the learning block dyslexia after long-running scholastic struggles. In the process of overcoming the hurdle that challenged him in school, Wilson was gained notoriety on the race track. As his career grew, the driver committed himself to share lessons of fighting dyslexia publicly.

As Justin Wilson grew up, his physical stature also became a tricky hindrance. Growing to be a 6-foot, 4-inch man, a jockey-like size sought by major Formula 1 teams kept him out of consideration. Fortunately, Wilson's talent and determination towered over his own size enough to open the door with the European Minardi team for the 2003 Formula 1 season.

Like is often the case for Formula 1 drivers, money was needed to race on major grand prix tracks weighed on Justin Wilson. In order to raise funding for the 2003 season in Formula 1, his name was added to the London Stock Exchange in order to attract investors. Practically a Kickstarter campaign before it existed, Wilson and his management team succeeded in their goal of securing the funding needed to for the 2003 season in Formula 1. Running for the European Minardi team for the first 11 races, Jaguar Racing picked him up for the remaining five events where he scored a championship point in the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Following the 2003 season, Wilson ultimately left Formula 1 due to losing the fight for sponsorship dollars against other funded drivers.

Taking the trip over the Atlantic Ocean, Justin Wilson's new career in the Champ Car World Series started in 2004 with Conquest Racing. Picked up by RuSPORT for the 2005 season in the series, he captured his maiden victory in major American open wheel racing on the streets of Toronto. While the Champ Car World Series was prominently competed on circuits in the United States, all four career victories on the tour occurred on tracks outside of the country (twice in Canada as well as in Mexico and the Netherlands). Wilson's first win in the United States in major open wheel racing occurred in 2008 in Detroit as part of the reunified IndyCar Series driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.


Photo Credit: Michael Levitt via IndyCar



In 2009, Justin Wilson once again challenged astronomical odds partnered with Dale Coyne Racing. A single-car operation against the superteams of Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing, Wilson pulled-off a popular victory at Watkins Glen in the #18 car. The win was Dale Coyne's first in major open wheel competition since entering team ownership in the 1980s. Running with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for 2010 and 2011, Wilson returned to Dale Coyne Racing where they won the 2012 Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway (the driver's one and only oval victory).

Also part of the 2012 calendar year was Wilson's participation in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series' crown jewel round, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Part of the #60 Michael Shank Racing, Justin Wilson paired with A.J. Allmendinger, Oswaldo Negri and John Pew in a Ford-powered Riley. A race that ended with a tight battle for the lead in the Daytona Prototype class, the #60 car pulled-off a popular win at the prestigious event. In 2013, the Grand Prix of Baltimore event presented Justin Wilson with the opportunity to race alongside his brother Stefan.


Photo Credit: Chris Nagy



Parting with Dale Coyne Racing after a disappointing 2014 IndyCar season, Justin Wilson ran a partial schedule with Andretti Autosport for 2015. Originally only with Indianapolis races in mind, Wilson was brought back into competition for July. At Mid-Ohio Sports car course (one race prior to the Pocono event), Justin Wilson and team took the runner-up position. Racing against eventual winner Graham Rahal, Wilson maintained a selfless tone in a post-race interview. "I had one more push-to-pass left but Graham was too quick (haha) - all the credit to him today because he was on fire. We pushed as hard as we could. I have to thank everyone at Andretti Autosport and Honda for all the work they’ve done. I’m pleased to get Honda a 1-2 finish at their home track." said Wilson. Earlier this year, Justin Wilson also ran a race in the revolutionary new all-electric Formula E tour finishing 10th in the Moscow round.


Photo Credit: IndyCar



As is so often the case in auto racing, the spirit of community has united all parties involved in motorsports to honour a life. Andretti Autosport posted the following condolence on their Facebook page.

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Justin Wilson. He was a tremendous racer, a valuable member of the team and...
Posted by Andretti Autosport on Monday, August 24, 2015


Justin Wilson's car owner for four years in IndyCar competition Dale Coyne said, "Justin was the kindest, gentlest racer that we have ever known. His wife Julia and their adorable girls, Jane and Jessica, are shining lights of Justin's spirit." as part of a statement on the team's website.

Off the track, Justin Wilson was also a husband and father of two daughters. Wilson's family posted a statement following the announcement of their close, heartfelt loss. "The family would like to thank the staff at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital,  Pocono Raceway, Andretti Autosport, and the Verizon IndyCar Series as well as the entire racing community for the amazing outpouring of support from fans around the world". The family of Justin Wilson requests that in lieu of flowers, people wishing to bid tribute to the driver send donations to the Wilson Children's Fund.




Sunday, August 9, 2015

Car FYI Car of the Month for June 2015: Le Mans Winning Porsche 919 Hybrid

Photo Credit Porsche Cars North America

Forgive me for I am still catching up to my commitment to provide a Car of the Month for the Car FYI website. When I started this initiative, I knew with the absence of auto shows, the summer would produce a trickier period for determining the monumental vehicle for a month.

Picking a car for the month of June, it is my belief I am trying too hard to be clever in choosing a vehicle that I should have followed my first and most obvious choice. Without further ado, I present the June 2015 Car FYI Car of the Month recipient; the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans overall winning Porsche 919 Hybrid.

After a decade and a half absence from top-tier global sports car racing, a Porsche factory racing effort assembled on-track for 2014 as LMP1 competitors in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Porsche's return to prototype sports car competition was hedged on a gasoline/electric hybrid propelled entrant. The Porsche 919 Hybrid pairs a rear-axle connected turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor on the front axle. Two energy recovery systems gather electrical power through braking as well as through exhaust gases.

The 2014 season for Porsche Racing started tough but ultimately ended with a victory at the 6 hours of Sao Paulo on Brazil's Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. In 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Porsche 919 Hybrid displayed impressive speed on course but lacked the durability necessary for the endurance race. For 2015, Porsche Racing returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe with an enhanced 919 Hybrid boosting a combined performance output of roughly 900 horsepower.

Taking the top-three positions in qualifying, the Porsche Racing team's LMP1 effort for the 2015 L24 Hours of Le Mans consisted of a red #17, black #18 and white #19 machine driven by a veteran as well as younger competitors. While the red Porsche 919 Hybrid proved to be winning material early, its was the #19 machine crossing the line first after 24 hours and 395 laps in the French endurance classic. The white Porsche 919 Hybrid was wheeled by a relatively young driving team of Nico Hulkenberg, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy.

Becoming the second hybrid-powered race car to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall (first being the Audi R18 e-tron quattro), the Porsche 919 Hybrid use of a gasoline/electric powertrain has coincided with for the 918 Spyder supercar production car.   

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bidding for Special Ford Apollo Edition Mustang Reached the Moon

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


A showcase devoted to the celebration of things that fly, the 2015 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh’s spirit spread once again to a favoured land vehicle form. Serving as a new annual tradition as part of the Gathering of Eagles charity event, Ford Motor Company has donated a very special Mustang for auction.

Every year, a unique aviation-themed version of the pony car was created by Ford. Past creations included the Mustangs paying homage to the F-22 Raptor, SR-71 Blackbird, Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. For the 2015 Gathering of Eagles fundraiser, the design concept for the Ford Mustang was out of this world. Hammered away for $230,000 during the July 23rd charity auction, NASA’s famed Apollo space program served as the inspiration for a modified 627-horsepower 2015 Ford Mustang.


Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company



Finished with a pure white/pure black exterior paint custom colour scheme resembling the appearance of the iconic rockets that launched humans to the moon, Ford created the Apollo Edition Mustang under the guidance of Design Manager Melvin Betancourt. Two-tone colour Forgiato 21-inch wheels and carbon fiber components are powerful space-age accent pieces used for the vehicle’s front splitter, rear diffuser and rocker panels. Another stunning treatment to the Ford Apollo Edition Mustang was the LED underbody lighting replicating the visual sensation of atmospheric reentry. Inside, exclusive multi-tone sport seats wearing ‘Apollo Project’ emblems and a special instrument panel featuring performance gauges capture the vehicle ready for liftoff.


Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company



Allowing the Ford Apollo Edition Mustang to achieve ground-based rocket abilities, the 5.0-liter V-8 engine receives a booster thanks to a Ford Performance supercharger. With the inclusion of a X-pipe with side and rear exhaust, power enhancements to the Apollo Edition are worth 192 horsepower in addition to the naturally-aspirated engine. A performance shifter, Brembo brakes and a sport-tuned suspension were included on the Apollo Edition Mustang for improved stability.

Alongside the $230,000 auction price for the Ford Apollo Edition Mustang, unique lots such as an Alaskan Adventure and a flight experience with Chuck Aaron (Red Bull helicopter pilot) contributed to a $2.2-million dollar fundraising effort for EAA youth education programs. During the Gathering of Eagles evening, Apollo 13 crew members including retired astronaut Captain Jim Lovell were part of festivities. 45 years since the Apollo 13 mission that nearly averted disaster, the crowd was presented with the pleasure of hearing from the 87-year-old commander of the flight.


Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company

   

The Apollo Edition Mustang marked the eighth time Ford has donated a one-of-a-kind aviation-themed vehicle to the EAA AirVenture. Between 2008 and 2014, the Ford Mustang sales have collectively raised almost 3 million dollars for EAA youth education programs.

Ford and IIHS Disagree Regarding Post-Collision Repair Costs for Aluminum F-150

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


In the United States, there is two major bodies that evaluate the crashworthiness of vehicles; the government-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS was assembled by insurance companies to assess the potential cost of vehicle damage and personal injury that could be suffered in a particular vehicle. IIHS tests are traditionally more rigorous than the NHTSA tests. For Canadians who buy almost identical vehicles to the ones of our American neighbours, the results of crash tests is regarded as reputably as it is stateside. When the IIHS published recent crash test results released for the revolutionary new 2015 Ford F-150, truck buyers in Canada would be most intrigued to know how one of the country's most popular-selling vehicles performed.

Testing of the 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCab and SuperCrew by the IIHS was a good news/bad news story for the blue oval purists. On the positive side, the SuperCrew version of the F-150 pickup recorded high-rated 'Good' performances in all five crashworthiness disciplines. The SuperCab model captured Good ratings in four of the five tests.

In a performance that earned the 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew a coveted Top Safety Pick award for acing all of its IIHS crash tests, the F-150 SuperCab's small front overlap impact test was a little more troubling. In the test conducted at 40 miles per hour (64.37 kilometers per hour) against an offset barrier, the Ford F-150 SuperCab's structure bent in such a manner that caused the pedals to move up to 13 inches closer to the crash test dummy. IIHS researchers were also concerned with the way the dummy's head landed into the front airbag. Despite the faults, the 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCab still received a mid-level 'Marginal' rating. 






Aside from the crash test, the IIHS performed calculations into repairs following less serious impacts. With the predominant use of aluminum in new Ford F-150's shape, the IIHS has tabulated the cost of front and rear damage done with a 10-mile per hour collision would be 26 percent more expensive than a steel-bodied vehicle. It is this second area of study by the IIHS that has sparked a strong difference in educated opinion. While Ford Motor Company proudly accepts the Top Safety Pick and appears to be investigating the small front overlap result of the F-150 SuperCab according to IIHS, the auto company strongly objected to the assertion that their aluminum-bodied truck cost more to repair.   

Following the publication of the IIHS' test, Ford rebutted with their own information. Using what they call real-world accident repair data, the automaker argues the costs are contrary to the crash institute's research. In fact, Ford Motor Company counters repair costs for their 2015 truck are lower than what is encountered with the 2014 F-150. Ford has recorded average repair costs have averaged $869 less. A number of components involved in the 2015 Ford F-150 utilize modular structures that requires less labour to repair.

The auto company also dispelled myths are more expensive to insure and own due to the aluminum body panels. Ford cites State Farm Insurance and Allstate Insurance expressing coverage for the new F-150 is comparable to the last-generation truck.


Information source: Ford Motor Company, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety