The winged Dodge Charger Daytona was in 1970 just an
amazing aerodynamic projectile. In the NASCAR competition it was almost
Though NASCAR didn’t specifically ban wing cars from
participating, Bill France’s ruling that Daytonas, Superbirds, and all other
such “special cars” be limited to 305-cu.in. engines for the 1971 season,
effectively did. The advantage of the Hemi and other big-block V-8s proved too
much for the racing teams, so rather than run the smaller engines, those teams –
and the manufacturers supporting them – dropped the wings and other aero
Perhaps the hardest-hit of those teams was Nord Krauskopf’s
K&K Insurance team, which had won the overall NASCAR championship in 1970 with
11 outright wins, 13 poles, and 38 top 10 finishes. Bobby Isaac, who started out
racing on dirt tracks, drove Krauskopf’s Harry Hyde-prepared Daytona to that
The question posed, all these years later, is just how fast
were these cars? Isaac drove the Daytona to a record qualifying speed – 199.658
MPH at Talladega – and in the offseason after winning the championship, he took
it back to Talladega to set a closed-course speed record of 201.104 MPH, a
record that would end up standing for more than a dozen years.
Members of the K&K team had speculated about how fast the
#71 car really was and what it could do if unlimited by NASCAR rules or
racetracks. The venue for this was the Bonneville salt flats and they recorded
216.945 MPH (330 KMH), a record for a stock-bodied car with a flying-start,
followed by a 182.174 MPH record for a stock-bodied car with a standing start.
Isaac then started chasing endurance speed records on a
10-mile oval on the salt, sliding the car like he would any dirt-track car
around the oval’s curves. In total, he and the team left the salt with 28
records and a good idea what their car really was capable of.
The auto industry is in trouble
San Francisco (AP) — Tesla lost US$408 million in
its latest quarter as it struggles to prove it can make money selling electric
cars at mass-market prices.
The setback had already been telegraphed by Tesla CEO Elon
Musk. Still, it underscored Tesla's ongoing challenges and helps explain why
the company's shares have plunged by more than 20 percent this year.
Tesla has sustained losses of more than $6 billion since
its inception, but Musk promised a year ago that the road ahead would be paved
with profits. The Palo Alto, California, company made good on that pledge with a
profit of $451 million during the final half of last year. But it has now posted
successive quarterly losses totaling $1.1 billion in the first half of this
The latest losses came despite Tesla selling more electric
cars — 95,356 — than in any other quarter in its history. The company remains
behind the sales pace needed to realize Musk's goal of delivering 360,000 to
400,000 cars this year.
But just reaching the lower-end of Musk's car-delivery goal
for this year may prove difficult. That's because the U.S. has reduced its tax
incentive for electric car purchases, which will be phased out entirely at the
end of the year.
Tesla is pinning its hopes largely on its lowest-priced
vehicle so far, the Model 3 sedan, which starts at $35,000. That's comparable
to other mass-market cars, but many analysts doubt the company can make money on
the Model 3 at its starting price. Tesla other's cars, the Model S and Model X,
both sell for more than $70,000 — far beyond the reach of most consumers.
However, it’s not just Tesla in financial trouble.
Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, says it
lost 1.2 billion euros in the second quarter as the company booked 4.2 billion
euros in one-time charges for troubles with diesel vehicles and air bag recalls.
The quarterly loss was the company's first since 2009 and a
bumpy start for new CEO Ola Kallenius, who took over from Dieter Zetsche on May
22 and since then has had to issue two profit warnings.
The Stuttgart-based company is under investigation in
Germany and the U.S. and faces U.S. civil lawsuits in connection with its cars'
diesel emissions. It also is facing increased expenses for recalling cars with
faulty air bags from supplier Takata, (losses suffered by other automakers,
Regulators in the U.S. and Europe have cracked down on
diesel emissions after Volkswagen was caught in 2015 using software to cheat on
U.S. diesel emissions tests. The Volkswagen scandal led to renewed scrutiny of
emissions from regulators, forcing Daimler and others to recall vehicles and
update their emissions software.
On top of that, Daimler like other automakers has to
finance the development of new technologies such as battery-powered cars,
self-driving cars and services such as car-sharing or taxi-hailing that work
through smartphone apps. Slowing growth in China, the world's largest auto
market, and U.S.-China trade tensions are creating further headwinds for the
The company said it expected "significant improvement" in
its earnings performance during the second half of the year. However, it has
already said full-year earnings will be significantly below last year's.
Kallenius said the company would review its product
portfolio and intensify efforts to reduce costs.
"Our focus for the second half of this year is on improving
our operating performance and cash-flow generation," he said.
Pressed for details about the company's cost-cutting
efforts during a conference call with reporters, Kallenius deferred giving
details until a presentation for investors in November. The company has said its
cost program will not involve layoffs.
Mercedes AMG A
What did we learn from the Hungarian GP?
A high speed procession became a cliff hanger at the
When pole-sitter Max Verstappen (Red Bull) won the start
and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) bungled it, we thought the race was over.
Initially, the way the race was unfolding did nothing to hold spectators’
Bottas needed a new front wing after squabbling with team
leader Lewis Hamilton on the first lap so dropped out of the equation, and will
result in a new set of overalls for the Finn next year. Any color but silver.
Another driver who will be lining up at the tailor shop for
new driving suits next year will be Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) who finished sixth
in Hungary and was never in the hunt for top positions. When your team mate can
win Grands Prix and you are nowhere, the transfer window is open.
In the initial stages of the race, with Verstappen bolting,
everyone was expecting Ferrari number one Sebastian Vettel to come up with an
action plan. The only car he was in close quarters with was his own team mate,
Charles Leclerc, with the Ferrari’s finishing third and fourth and not even
keeping the others in sight. Ferrari management will not be pleased to see
their cars finish over one minute behind.
The first tyre changes came around lap 25 and Verstappen
kept his first position after the round of pit stops was over. At that stage
the only driver making up positions was Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) who started
from last following engine maladies with the exploding motors. Ricciardo’s
progress through the field was halted by Magnussen (Haas) who was very adept at
moving side to side, also known as blocking.
In the meantime, Hamilton had caught up with Verstappen,
but was unable to pass. A brave decision by Mercedes pit wall brought Hamilton
in on Lap 49 to get fresh rubber, an advantage – but now Hamilton rejoined 20
seconds behind Verstappen. A disadvantage.
At this stage, everyone was trying to guess when and
whether Hamilton would catch Verstappen, and even if he did, would he be able to
Hamilton then put in a series of fastest laps, carving up
to 2 seconds a lap from Verstappen’s lead. By the time there was 9 laps to go,
Hamilton was 10 seconds behind. By the time there was three laps to go,
Hamilton was filling Verstappens mirrors, and cleanly executed a clinical pass
and powered away.
Verstappen’s only consolation on losing what looked like a
certain win was to come in and change tyres and set the new lap record.
The battle at the front was so exciting that the other
drivers were forgotten, but mention should be made of Charles Leclerc who was
fourth for Ferrari, Carlos Sainz (McLaren) fifth, in front of the second Red
Bull of Pierre Gasly. Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen was seventh, Bottas was
eighth with Lando Norris (McLaren) ninth in front of the Toro Rosso of Alexander
The annual “holiday” is up next, with the first GP back
being Spa on September 1.
J.D. Power's 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study measures
the number of problems reported by consumers who have owned 2015 model-year
vehicles for three years.
The study found that vehicle dependability increased 9
percent over the 2017 study, which was the first increase since 2013.
"For the most part, automotive manufacturers continue to
meet consumers' vehicle dependability expectations," J.D. Power vice president
of global automotive Dave Sargent said in a press release. "A 9 percent
improvement is extremely impressive, and vehicle dependability is, without
question, at its best level ever."
Lexus topped the survey for the seventh consecutive year
with a score of 99 reported problems per 100 vehicles, while the industry
average was 142. Porsche, Buick, Infiniti, and Kia rounded out the top-five.
However, Lexus still has a dreadful front with the “spindle grille”.
Whilst those figures are indeed impressive, the ongoing
problems with defective items supplied to the manufacturer continues from tier
one and downwards. The Takata air-bag saga is not over yet. There will be
further ramifications with the diesel ‘cheating’ scandal which has expanded from
being a VW problem, to just about any diesel manufacturer, and that includes
Mercedes. One cannot help the feeling that VW has been made the whipping boy in
this diesel debacle.
Lexus RC 350.
Hot on the heels of the German GP, the next is the
Hungarian GP. As a racing venue, Hungary has a long history, with its first GP
run in 1906, and regular events in Budapest since 1926. Built with state
backing, and laid out in a natural amphitheater, the Hungaroring opened in 1986
and attracted an estimated 200,000 spectators.
Though the event was well organized, and the hosts very
appreciative, it was felt that the 4km Hungaroring had been laid out more in the
style of a twisty street circuit rather than a bespoke road track. There were
few opportunities for overtaking, though things were eased from 1989 when a
tight corner was by-passed and the lap distance became slightly less than 4km.
However, it remains a circuit that is not high on any of
the drivers’ lists, unless you are after a piece of quick action behind the
pits, as the Hungarian government actually erected (nice word in the sex scene)
some mobile brothels a few years ago (sponsored by Viagra?). I think they are
still in use today!
After the British and German GPs, will we get the same sort
of racing? Find out this weekend.
We watch from Fletchers Folly these days, where you will
find Kim and Goy Fletcher. It’s located on Siam Country Club Road, opposite
Maxxis Tyres and 300 meters before the Mitkamol (Chicken) intersection. We get
there early around 7 p.m. and have something to eat and wet the whistle before
the racing begins at 8 p.m., while watching the HD channel, which is so much
sharper than the others. Why don’t you join me at around 7 p.m. for a natter
and some food and amber liquids and then sit down for the Grand Prix.
Corvette goes mid-engine for first time
to raise performance
Warren, Michigan. (AP) — When you first lay eyes on
the new 2020 Corvette, a modern version of the classic American sports car isn't
the first thing that pops into your head.
Instead, you think Lamborghini, Lotus, McLaren.
The eighth-generation 'Vette, dubbed C8, is radically
different from its predecessors, which for 66 years had the engine in the front.
This time, engineers moved the General Motors' trademark small-block V8 behind
the passenger compartment. It's so close to the driver that the belt running the
water pump and other accessories is only a foot away.
Also gone are the traditional long hood and large, sweeping
front fenders, replaced by a downward-sloping snub nose and short fenders. In
the back, there's a big, tapered hatch that opens to a small trunk and the
low-sitting all-new 6.2-liter, 495 horsepower engine.
So why change the thing?
"We were reaching the performance limitations of a
front-engine car," explained Tadge Juechter, the Corvette's chief engineer,
ahead of a glitzy unveiling in a World War II dirigible hangar in Orange County,
With a mid-engine, the flagship of GM's Chevrolet brand
will have the weight balance and center of gravity of a race car, rivaling
European competitors and leaving behind sports sedans and ever-more-powerful
muscle cars that were getting close to outperforming the current 'Vette.
"We're asking people to spend a lot of money for this car,
and people want it to be the best performer all around," Juechter said.
GM President Mark Reuss said the C8 will start below
US$60,000, 7 percent more than the current Corvette's base price of US$55,900.
Prices of other versions weren't announced but the current car can run well over
US$100,000 with options, still thousands cheaper most than European competitors.
GM says the new version, with an optional ZR1 performance
package, will go from zero to 60 mph (96.6 kilometers per hour) in under three
seconds, the fastest Corvette ever and about a full second quicker than all but
one high-performance version of the outgoing Vette.
The "cab forward" design with a short hood looks way
different, but GM executives say they aren't worried that it will alienate
Corvette purists who want the classic long hood and the big V8 in the front.
Harlan Charles, the car's marketing manager, said
mid-engine Corvettes had for years been rumored to be the next generation so it
wasn't unexpected. GM also is hoping the change will help draw in younger buyers
who may not have considered a Corvette in the past.
George Borke, a member of Village Vettes Corvette Club in
The Villages, Florida, a huge retirement community, said he hasn't heard anyone
in the 425-member club complain about the new design. "I think after 60 years
it's time for a change," said Borke, who owns a current generation "C7," bought
when the car was last redesigned in the 2014 model year.
The new car has two trunks, one in the front that can hold
an airline-spec carry-on bag and a laptop computer case. Under the rear hatch
behind the engine is another space that can hold two sets of golf clubs.
Even though it's a performance car, Juechter said the
Corvette can go from eight cylinders to four to save fuel. Some owners get close
to 30 mpg on the freeway with the current model, and Juechter said he expects
that to be true with the new one. Full mileage tests aren't finished, he said.
Engineers also took great pains to make the new car quiet
on the highway, with heat shields and ample insulation to cut engine noise.
Even though the car has an aluminum center structure and a
carbon fiber bumper beam, it still weighs a little more than the current model.
It's also slightly less aerodynamic due to large air intake vents on the sides
to help cool the engine. The new Corvette comes with a custom-designed
fast-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission with two tall top gears. It
also will be made with right-hand-drive for international markets.
Higher-performance versions are coming, although Juechter
wouldn't say if the C8 is designed to hold a battery and electric motor.
What did we learn from the German GP?
Well, we learned that it rains in Germany. We also saw that
a cool head and treading carefully pays off in those slippery situations and can
produce some unexpected results.
The race started on a wet track, and the 20 cars managed to
avoid one another through the first corner. That on its own was rather amazing,
especially as Verstappen (Red Bull) fluffed his start and lost several places,
while the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas then took up their customary 1-2
at the head of the train. At that early stage, groans were heard all round.
With the rain alternating in intensity, the pit managers
then struggled between wets, intermediates and dry’s. None of the tyre
combinations really suited the circuit, as parts of the track were wet, and
other parts on the same lap were dry. This led to the downfall of Charles
Leclerc (Ferrari), Bottas (Mercedes) who had just inherited the lead, to crash
with a clear track ahead of him, Hulkenberg (Renault), Sainz (McLaren) and
Hamilton (Mercedes). Daniel Ricciardo had another Renault engine turn into a
hand grenade, but he was very used to that from the last 12 months of disasters
with the French engine, he is now a fluent Francophone with “Merde” and “Sacre
In the middle of all the crashes, spins, safety cars and
virtual safety cars there were some excellent drives. Vettel came from 20th
and last to end up second; Albon (Toro Rosso) up as high as fourth in his rookie
year and first time in the wet and even challenging Hamilton. Lance Stroll was
up to 4th at one stage (Yes, THAT Lance Stroll of “Buy me a race team
Daddy”) and Robert (One Wing) Kubica (Williams) being credited with 10th
place and a point after all the stewards had finished handing out time penalties
and the finishers bonus.
The final words from the podium:
Verstappen (First): "It was amazing to win, it was really
tricky out there to make the right calls, you had to be focused. I made a nice
360, I enjoyed that. It was about trying to not make too many mistakes. You
learn over the years I'm very happy with the result."
Vettel (Second): "It was a long race at some stage it felt
never ending. It was great fun, it was tough with the conditions and tough to
read what was the smartest move. Before the last safety car it was
straight-forward, I was fast and could time it right and people were being
cautious into the first corner and I had DRS and I could get the moves in the
Kvyat (Third): "It was amazing to be back on the podium.
Incredible with Toro Rosso to bring a podium back to the team is amazing. I'm
really happy. It was a horror movie with a black comedy. At some point I thought
the race was done, but it was incredible, a rollercoaster, just like my career."
So there you are - The answer to the F1 boredom is
obviously a wet track!
Police stop 4 kids who drove SUV 600
miles down Aussie coast
Canberra, Australia (AP) — Four children aged 10 to
14 packed fishing rods in a parent's SUV, left a farewell note then drove more
than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) down the Australian east coast before they
were stopped by police the next day after two fuel thefts and one aborted
pursuit, officers said.
When the children were stopped by police near Grafton in
New South Wales state, they locked the doors and refused to get out, Acting
Police Inspector Darren Williams said.
A police officer used a baton to break a window of the 2004
Nissan Patrol, which had been reported stolen by worried parents, Williams said.
Police were not sure which child or children drove or why
they left Rockhampton in Queensland state. The children are a 14-year-old boy,
two 13-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl.
Williams said they possibly shared the driving.
"It's a long way and I couldn't imagine one person actually
driving all that way in two days," Williams told reporters.
The children are suspected of failing to pay for fuel at
Outback gas stations in the Queensland town of Banana and the New South Wales
town of Warialda, police said.
They were also chased by police in the New South Wales town
of Glen Innes, where a 13-year-old was suspected to be driving, Williams said.
"There was a short pursuit up there with the Highway Patrol
and due to the age of the driver and the road conditions, that was terminated by
the Highway Patrol officers ... and the general duties police that were
involved," he said.