What’s A Firewall, Dad?

Tech Talk Day!

Well son, a firewall is a wall between the engine and passenger compartments.  With a front-engined vehicle, the firewall is part of the induction cowl, and ahead of the passenger compartment.  With mid or rear- engined cars, it is behind the passenger compartment.

The firewall protects the passenger cabin from an engine fire.  Most firewalls have carbon-fiber in them to protect from the engine flying backward into the passenger compartment.

Way back when, firewalls used to be about an inch thick, and made out of steel.  The only thing that could break them was a bomb or a massive engine fire.  Nowadays, they are about half an inch thick, and extremely strong.

Cars, songs & culture

I’m driving in my Pink Cadillac.  NOT!  I’d rather be in a purple Rolls Royce.  Not.  Again.  Today we learn about cars and music (what could go wrong?).  Cars and music go together like bread and butter.  Always have and always will.  What could be better than flying down the highway at 95 mph and listening to rock and roll blasting.  Mom, if you’re reading this, then I am just exaggerating.  Songs refer to cars and show cars in their videos.  They are part of the same culture.

Just like my Beach Boys post,  I have downloaded some songs about cars for you to listen to and watch.  Right below the text is the link for the song I talk about.

First on the playlist is “Drive”, by The Cars.  My mom went to one of their concerts!  Rick Ocasek wrote the lyrics, Robert “Mutt” Lange produced it, and the lead vocals were by bassist and lead vocalist Benjamin Orr.  This video is from their 1979 tour. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6avuh3K_70

“Drive My Car” by The Beatles.  This video is from the tour when the song debuted.  A woman tells a man that she is going to be a famous movie star.  She also offers him to be her chauffuer, adding “and maybe I’ll love you.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ts2U1mkfz4

“Fast Car”, by Tracy Chapman.  Its a good song.  Its about a poor girl who’s mother divorces her alcoholic father.  She (the girl) then marries a man who, despite having a job at a grocery store, falls into poverty and depression.  He then starts drinking.  She tells him to “get into his fast car and drive away.” It’s a sad song.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfqEisOIMJc

“Car Song” by Woody Guthrie.  Yeah, I know he did folk music, so this IS folk music.  Original folk music.  You’ll see.  Period.  End of sentence.  I dare you to NOT crack up when he does car noises!  (I want to see if you think this is funny!)  Trivia moment!  Did you know that Woody was an Okie?   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUDtFdnn9oQ

“Pink Cadillac” is by Nat King Cole’s daughter, Natalie Cole.  It has great dancing, a Cadillac and awesome music.   It is filmed at a gas station!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FdAO1JgvA0

Aretha Franklin performs this song, “Freeway of Love.”  It gives you nice views of Detroit, funny clips of some cars, and of course, Aretha!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip_pjb5_fgA

I’m sure many of you have either heard this song, or heard of it.  It is “Little Red Corvette”, by Prince.  It was the second music video performed by an African-American artist (the first was Michael Jackson with Billie Jean). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS70tCPP-_4

Gary Numan performs this song, “Cars.”  It’s a teensy bit on the sci-fi (make that A LOT a bit) side of music.  Its fun.  It’s got a futuristic feel, and a techno beat.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldyx3KHOFXw

This is a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Fire” done by the Pointer Sisters.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRCydGQvvE4

Bruce Springsteen does this nice music video of “I’m on Fire.”  It doesn’t refer to cars, but I’ve included it because of the ’58 T-Bird Convertible.  Sweet ride!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRCydGQvvE4

Rascal Flatts sings “Life is a Highway.”  The group did the songs for the movie, “Cars.”  It’s about driving the highway of life.  I really think that you’ll enjoy it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRCydGQvvE4

Of course, this wouldn’t be a post without “Route 66”, by Nat King Cole.  Route 66 was the “Main Street of America” for over 40 years.  On a personal level, you can see lots of old cars, scenery, and possibly the best, the Sno-Cap Diner in Seligman, AZ.  I know I did.   Enjoy this video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCYApJtsyd0

And one of my personal favorite songs, “I Can’t Drive 55”, by Sammy Hagar.  It’s a really fun video with a Ferrari.  The video ends with Sammy putting the Ferrari in first gear, and putting the pedal to the metal.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvV3nn_de2k

I hope that you’ll start a playlist titled “Candler’s Car Songs”!  If you do, then I’ll be your personal DJ!  Hopefully, you’ll listen to them and maybe download them to your iPod (I would, except I’m waiting for an iTunes account, mom!).

Are You Taxing MY Chickens?

For those of you who know me, I have chickens (but my sister tends them along with her flock).  According to the title of this post, you COULD be taxing my chickens, but let’s be positive.  Well, this isn’t a chicken blog, but a car blog.  So how does a chicken tax relate to cars?

What in the world do chickens and trucks have to do with each other?  Apparently a lot.  The chicken tax has been in action in the U.S., since 1963.  If foreign automakers sell trucks not built in North America, than the automaker will have to pay a 25% “chicken tax.”  The term originated when, in 1963, Germany imposed a heavy tax on frozen chickens coming from the U.S. to Germany.  The U.S. retorted by imposing the chicken tax on any foreign-built pickup truck, or other small truck coming into the U.S.  This also applies to vans, as they are built on truck platforms.

The chicken tax forced Honda, Toyota and Nissan to build their trucks here.  But, the chicken tax is imposed on the Ford Transit Connect (a small car-based platform, cargo van).  After figuring out a loophole, Ford decided to use it as a solution to the chicken tax problem.  The Transit Connect comes to America with the rear seats in.  This qualifies it as a station wagon.  Ford realizes that most Transit Connects will be sold in the cargo van configuration, so the rear seats are ripped out of most and sent to a company, where the steel from the seats will be recycled, and the remaining part of the seats will be sent to the dump.  How green can Ford be?  Pretty tricky….

The other truck that is in danger of the chicken tax is a Mahindra pickup truck.  The Indian firm, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. is in high hopes of selling their pickup stateside by December 2011.  But, there is the chicken tax.   The plans are to have complete kits of the truck sent to the U.S., and then be assembled in a plant in Ohio; thus avoiding the chicken tax.  That’s pretty smart, and green!

Even though there are very few American frozen chickens in Germany, the chicken tax is still there.  At least no one is taxing my chickens!

Carroll Shelby part 2

More Carroll Shelby!

When we left Carroll, he was roaring around every racetrack in the U.S., and in Europe!  He was the Dale Earnhardt Sr. of his day.  He was the girls’ cutie pie, and the boys’ hero (after Patton).  Here is the rest of his life. 

In 1959, he retired from roaring around Le Mans Raceway at 150 mph, to start his racing school:  ‘The Carroll Shelby School of High-Performance Driving.’  The reason that he chose to be stuck behind a desk all day was heart disease had become a large threat within his family.  And the track was (and still is) no place for a race car driver’s heart to blow. 

In 1962, Carroll decided that he’d better have a signature car.  So, he started thinking.  He bought an AC 260 roadster, and put a Ford 260 V8 that he had lying around in.  He still didn’t have a name.  One night, he had a dream where the car came to him and told him its name was Cobra.  He woke up and jotted the name down on a note pad on his nightstand.  In the morning, he told his friend that the car needed to be called Cobra.  And so it was.  That night, he went cruising around Dallas in the first Shelby Cobra prototype.  He was looking for Vettes (he didn’t find any).  But, the Cobra went into production two months later. 

By 1965, about 80 Cobra’s had been produced, with Ford V8’s ranging in size from 260 cu. inches to the mighty 427 V8.  To be homogolated (big word!  It means to register a specific automobile for international racing.  And it’s not even definition day yet!) for Le Mans, an automaker had to sell at least 100 vehicles.  What Carroll did was build about 80 cars, and skip about 20 Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN’s).  The Cobra won at Le Mans many times, leaving Corvettes and Ferraris in the dust (or biting the dust). 

By 1991, Carroll was on an urgent heart transplant list.  He realized that there were kids who had heart conditions as bad, or worse than his.  So, he started the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation.  It helps children who need a heart, to find a heart.  It has helped over 10,000 children, since it was started in 1991. 

When Lee Iacocca was at Ford, he called up Carroll, and asked him to make a higher-performance Mustang.  Carroll answered the phone and told Lee “Lee, I don’t think that anybody can make a racehorse out of a mule.”  But, Carroll decided to go with Lee’s idea, and tuned a Mustang.  Thus, the first Shelby GT350 was built. 

In the 25 years since the first Cobra, Carroll made a deal with Ford to have Mustangs shipped to his plant in Las Vegas.  He would then tweak them to make them into Shelby GT350’s and Shelby GT500’s.  In fact, he made over 50,000 GT350’s and GT500’s since 1965.  One cool fact!  After a 35-year hiatus, the Shelby GT350 is making a comeback (and a very strong one!) 

In addition to pumping out thousands of tuned cars (Ford Mustangs and other cars) from his Las Vegas factory, he came out with a chili kit.  He has been cooking chili since his racing days.  He also sponsors a chili cook-off in Texas.   

Once asked in an interview about his heart in early 2009, the 86 year old Texan replied “I’ve had this [heart] for almost 19 years now, and it’s been serving me better than the previous heart.  D’ya think that I’m about to die on you?  *#@%, no!”

Carroll Shelby: A Legendary Auto-Tuner

Since 1958, Carroll Hall Shelby has been one of the foremost race car drivers and auto-tuners in the U.S., or even the world!  He has raced all over the place, and tuned thousands (make that tens of thousands!) of cars.  Here is his life story.

In 1923, Carroll Hall Shelby was born to Warren Hall Shelby and Eloise Lawrence Shelby, in Leesburg, Texas.  His father was a rural-route mail carrier.  By the time Carroll was 7, he was suffering from heart valve leakage problems, and spent most of his childhood (up until 14) in bed.  When he turned 14, his heart problems “disappeared.”  When Carroll was 15, his family moved to the huge (to him) city of Dallas (Leesburg only had about 200 residents).  Young Carroll went to Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas.  According to an un-named Shelby biographer (not me!  I’ve got a name…), his passion (make that lust) for speed was shown when he got a speeding ticket for going 85 mph on an empty road. And, it was the first time he had ever driven the family car! 

As he graduated high school, WWII was already in its third year. America needed men to enlist, so Carroll joined the United States Army Air Corps.  He loved flight-school, but couldn’t go overseas, because of his history of heart problems.  So, he became a mechanic.  Not only did he repair engines, but he also would fly planes that had been ‘grounded’ (stuck on the ground because of various problems).  When flying the fixed grounded planes, he would drop love letters onto his fiancée’s front porch.  In turn, she would bring love letters to him, when she brought food to the base. 

After three years of serving his country, Carroll had a family to support (his wife, Jeanne Fields Shelby and his daughter, Sharon Anne Shelby).  He started a dump truck business in Dallas, but it didn’t work out.  So, he went into the oil business.  That didn’t work out either.  I guess that those things weren’t enough for a man who would make the Cobra an icon of speed and style.  So, he took an aptitude test.  Instead of indicating that his mechanical genius could take far beyond what he imagined, it said that maybe chicken farming was the right job.  So, he just went out and bought a flock of chickens…

After making a little bit of money in his first year of biz, the chickens started to drop dead left and right.  So, with the remaining chickens pumping out eggs and chicks, Carroll started buying old sports cars and tuning them.  An auto-tuner is a person who takes a car, an improves its performance.  He would then sell them in the local newspaper or Hemmings Motor News.  To test them out before selling them, he would often take them to races across the country.  Before he knew it, his garage was stuffed to the ceiling with trophies!  (He had to have an extension built onto the house!)  In 1952, he always won 1st or 2nd place.  So much for chicken farming. 

His racing fame spread, and soon he wasn’t driving his race car to the track, it was being shipped there!  He went to Europe for the first time in 1958, for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  He won it, and the next year, won again!  So, he was now the cutie hanging in every girl’s room (not Justin Bieber, girls)! 

Some people happen to be so exciting, they need to be done in installments, so look on Friday for the remainder!

Infineon Raceway: a legendary track.

Infineon Raceway, formerly known as Sears Point Raceway, is located near Sonoma,California.  It is host to one of five NASCAR races on road courses.  It is also host to SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) racing and the Toyota/Save Mart 350.  The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is a 350 kilometer (220 mile) race that is held annually at Infineon Raceway.  Some noticeable names who have won the race include Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr.  There are many motorcycle races held there throughout the year.  It also has a ¼ mile drag strip, which is most often used by Full Throttle Drag Racing.  The track hosts IZOD Indycar.  The whole track is a winding, twisting 2.52 mile road course.  For over 40 years, Infineon Raceway has been one of the top tracks in the world.  It also has a lot of great views of Southern Sonoma County and Pablo Bay.  On a clear day, one can see out all the way to San Francisco and to Oakland.  The things that make Infineon Raceway so special are: it is the main track in California (it used to be Riverside International, but RI was torn down to be a shopping mall.), it is in prime rubber-necking country (wineries, great views, etc.), it is close by Sonoma, and a short drive for anybody in the Bay Area. 

The track was conceived when an attorney and a developer from Marin County were on the property for a hunting trip.  The ground was broken and graded in 1968.  The first race happened there in December 1st, 1968.  The property was originally a 720 acre dairy farm.  Now, there are some cows, but it is a 1600 acre track.  Many people still refer to Infineon Raceway as Sears Point Raceway, even though the computer chip company, Infineon, bought the track in 2002.  It was originally named Sears Point Raceway after the nearby Sears Point Ranch. 

In 1969, the track was sold to an entertainment company based in Los Angeles, Filmways Corp., for $4.5 million.  From the time it was bought, to early 1970, a variety of racing events happened there, including: USAC IndyCar races, NASCAR stock car racing, SCCA races, and drag races (not governed by NHRA, but they still happened anyway).

In 1970, Dan Gurney won a 150 mile USAC Indycar race that included some notable names, such as: Al Unser, Mario Andretti and Mark Donahue.  Not log after the race, the track was closed, as a result of Filmways’ losing $300,000 in May of that year.

Even though the track had been closed for three years, Hugh Harm and Parker Archer (investors) agreed to lease the track for $1 million.  Bob Bondurant announced that he was going to move his high-performance driving school from Ontario Speedway to Sears Point Raceway.  Six months later, Bondurant and his partner Bill Benck took over control and management of the raceway from Archer and Harm.  AMA races were popular, but stopped, as a result of rising insurance policies. 

In 1975, a lawyer with no drag racing experience hired Jack Williams, the 1964 Top Fuel Drag Racing Champion, to be his operations chief.  A group that was called Black Mountain Inc., included Bondurant and others, bought the track from Filmways for around $1.5 million.  Not long after, Kenny Roberts did wheelies during the final two laps, waving to a crowd of 20,000 in a AMA-Sonoma Motorcycle Classic.  Five years later, the Long Beach Grand Prix Association joined Black Mountain Inc., in hopes of improving marketing and PR. 

In 1981, the Long Beach Grand Prix Assoc., lead by Chris Pook, decided to rename Sears Point Raceway the Golden State International Raceway. Black Mountain objected, by saying “that Filmways still had ownership of the track; and, therefore, could make the ultimate decision.”  In the end, the track remained Sears Point Raceway, but Bondurant retired from the committee.  Soon after Bondurant retired, an argument happened, and the track was purchased for $800,000 at an auction. 

In 1983, Ford Motor Company became a major sponsor.  As a result, many Ford clubs in Sonoma County were able to rent the track at significantly lower costs. 

Two years later, the track was completely repaved, with help from massive funds from “Pave the Point” fund-raising organization.  Some new shop spaces were also built at the track.  Many of the original shop buildings were either torn down or remodeled. 

In 1986, Harvey Berg took control of the track.  Berg then named Darwin Doll the new track president.  For a few years, Doll was track president.  (He retired around 1990.)

The next year, 1987, the track signed a deal with NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) for a five year contract.  The Dragway was to be used for the California Nationals.  Other shop buildings were needed, so they were built.  Shop space instantly grew to over 700,000 square feet.

In 1988, the first NHRA-sanctioned drag race happened at Sears Point Dragway.  The winners were: Mark Oswald, Harry Scribner and Joe Amato.  Over 32,000 spectators showed up to watch Joe Amato edge out Dick LaHaie by one hundredths of a second.  Also, Berg fired Doll, and brought in an IBM executive, Glen Long, to be the new track president. 

NASCAR made its début in the Sonoma Valley in 1989, with Ricky Rudd taking home the trophy.  Rudd had a very good win at Infineon Raceway, but at the Atlanta Journal 500, his car stalled, and he went slamming into a pit of a competitor; killing a tire changer. 

In 1991, the Skip Barber Racing School replaced the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving at the track.  In its 3rd year at Sears Point Raceway, the NASCAR race drew out more than 70,000 spectators. 

Three years later, the track needed a way to keep track of who was leading.  To do that, they needed to build a scoreboard.  A 62-foot-four-sided electronic scoreboard was built in the middle.  Also, a medical facility and 18-nozzle gas station were built. 

In 1995, the NASCAR Craftsman Pro Truck Series was added to the tracks’ already extensive list of races.  Also, some luxurious VIP tower suites, and a two story driver lounge/medical facility.  Another notable thing that happened was IMSA and Trans-Am races returned to the track.

The next year, O. Bruton Smith & Speedway Motorsports, Inc.  bought the rights to the track, with an option to buy the whole track within three years.  (They bought the track 2.5 years later.) 

The Jim Russell Racing School asked O. Bruton Smith if they could have their world-famous driving school at the track.  On a personal note, I would LOVE to take the Jim Russell go-karting class at IR!  There’s always hope for sponsorship…  The Skip Barber Racing School went to Laguna Seca Raceway.  (Now called Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.)  The reason that it has Laguna Seca in it’s name is because it is built on an old Lagoon (Laguna in Spanish); every spring and fall, the Laguna Seca is drained because of flooding fears. 

In 1998, a new straightaway called “The Chute” was added to the tracks already long course.  The Chute spans 890 feet, and will be used only for NASCAR races.  The Chute is a long straightaway that comes out of turn #8.  The amount of laps for the Save Mart/Kragen 350 increased by 50%, from 74 to 112.  That meant that the drivers might fall asleep during the race!

The next year, in 1999, a new series was added to the major event schedule; the American Le Mans Series.  The ALMS series marked the return of sports cars racing at Sears Point Raceway.  Also, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series went on hiatus, so the track could get started on the Modernization Plan a lot sooner.  That was a good thing, as the track needed a big overhaul. 

In 2000, the track got approval to start on its Modernization Plan.  When the plan finished, it had cost $70 Million.  What was included in the plan was: hillside terraced seats, garages for competitors, and wider roads for less internal traffic. 

In 2001, the plan went into action.  Fans were then able to experience amazing races at a state-of-the-art facility.  Also, some improvements were made to the track, including: a miniature chute at turn 4a, and more run-offs at many of the turns.  Those small improvements lengthened the NASCAR course from 1.949 miles to 1.99 miles.

 Sears Point Raceway announced that it was being renamed Infineon Raceway in 2002, as part of a ten year strategic plan with Infineon Technologies.  The Infineon Raceway Karting Center includes a 16 turn, sweeping part of the track.  Also, the dragstrip was finally separated from the track.  Out of the 1320 feet of dragstrip, 660 are a concrete launch pad. 

In 2003, Robby Gordon won in his class, and broke all of the previous lap times.  (His record has only been beaten twice!) Also, four more garages were added to the already large number (40).  The medical facility was also remodeled. 

Four wins for Jeff Gordon at the 2004 Dodge/Save Mart 350.  Wow! Also, a new event was put on the schedule; it was called the California Outdoor Sports Championships.  It included: slalom courses, road racing, and mountain cross.  There were also many other events that took place there.  That must have been fun to watch!

The year 2005 was a big year for Infineon Raceway, the IndyCar Series returned to the Sonoma Valley, after a 35 year hiatus.  Tony Kanaan claimed the trophy, in the Dodge/Save Mart 350, Tony Stewart got the checkers.  During the NASCAR Weekend, the Infineon Raceway Wall of Fame was unveiled.  Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, and Warren Johnson were all inducted during the NHRA Weekend.  Speedway Children’s Charities distributed $546,606, which brought the total from the past three years to $1.3 million! 

In 2006, Jeff Gordon continued to dominate the NASCAR field, with his fifth win at Infineon Raceway.  Marco Andretti won in the open-cockpit racing class.  He was also the youngest driver to ever compete at Infineon Raceway, let alone win.  He was 19 years old!  Infineon Raceway sold the racing school to a London bus company called Emotive Group.  Infineon Raceway was named “Business of the Year, 2006” by the Sonoma County Chamber of Commerce.   

Juan Pablo Montoya made history at Infineon Raceway when he competed in the 2007 Toyota/Save Mart 350.  He was the third foreign-born driver ever to compete.  He placed 32nd in the qualifying race.  Montoya reset the record for the biggest improvement from qualifying to the race.  The event also debuted the Car of Tomorrow race on a road course.  Jeff Gordon and his teammate, Jimmie Johnson didn’t pass pre-race inspection, and were forced to start at the back.  John Force, Tony Schumacher, Greg Anderson, and Matt Smith also claimed victories.  Andretti Green Racing had a bad day: Dario Franchetti sustained damage to his car on lap #69, when he accidentally hit his teammate Marco Andretti.  That would not be good for anybody, let alone a professional racing team.  The track also hosted the fourth and final Cougar Mountain Classic road cycling and mountain biking event.  Matt Mladin, Ricky Rudd, Gary Sclezi, Bob Piccinini, and Joe Huffaker were all inducted into the wall of fame.  The Wall of Fame is a large wall at IR, where copper plaques with driver’s faces and their achievements are displayed.

In 2008, Kyle Busch won his first NASCAR Sprint Car Cup on a road course.  His victory marked the first Toyota victory in the Sonoma Valley.  Also, Ken Klapp and Doug Kallita were inductees for the wall of fame.  (Ken Klapp and Doug Kallita are famous race car drivers [retired now, but still famous], who made a 1-2 finish at Daytona Speedway in ’08.)

Kasey Kahne copied Kyle Busch on the same road course.  The win was also the first for the team owner, Richard Petty.  Dario Franchitti won FIVE different IndyCar classes, he went home with first place overall at the end of the season. 

Last year, Jimmie Johnson won his first NASCAR Sprint Car Cup at Infineon Raceway at the Toyota/Save Mart 350.  Rick Hendrick was inducted into the Infineon Raceway Wall of Fame because of his 5 Sprint Car victories at Infineon Raceway.  A Team Penske driver, Will Power completed a weekend that most can only dream about.  The previous year, he had broken his back on the 75th lap of the Indy Races.  He also received the Mario Andretti Road Championship trophy from Mario Andretti himself.  Ron Capps won in the Funny Car NHRA Nationals at the 23rd drag racing event of the year.  Josh Hayes of Yamaha won the West Coast Moto-Jam, and taking a back-to-back win at the AMA Superbike Nationals. 

Infineon is not all about fun, and they have made improving the lives of others a priority.  The Speedway Children’s Charities is an organization that is dedicated to making better lives for kids who are in financial distress, medical distress or educational distress.  The Sonoma Chapter has distributed over $3.7 million to over 140 qualified youth groups, since 2001.  Much of the money is gathered on major race weekends.   

Go Green, and GO HIPPIE!  The Infineon Raceway “Go Green” program sends over 50 tons of recyclable material to the recycling plant every year.  It also prompts visitors to IR, to recycle whatever possible.  More than 73 million tons of recyclable materials have been collected since Infineon Raceway started the program in 2004! During major race weekends, Infineon Raceway recycled more than 67 tons of recyclable material.  Over 140 million tons of recyclable materials have been recycled in the past four years!  To continue their “Go Green” efforts at the track, Infineon Raceway has added over 3,000 sheep to their “stables” to naturally maintain the grasses around the facility. 

Since I live near Infineon Raceway, I see a good bit of advertising going on for the raceway.  Yes, the economy has been tough, but Infineon Raceway is still in action!  For many years, people have traveled hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, just to see a weekend race.  Every year, there is always something new and interesting at Infineon Raceway.   

I would like to put out a special thank you to Jen and Infineon Raceway.  You can look forward to coverage from Infineon Raceway over the summer.  I have attached the Infineon Raceway website for you to enjoy.  Hopefully, I will see some of you there!   


Grandma’s new Nissan Maxima

My Grandma just got a brand-new Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV with the Premium Package.  She drove it home just last Thursday from the dealer.  As soon as the door is opened, that lovely new car smell wafts out like flowers on a spring breeze.  Oh that fleeting new car smell…  I wish I could have an air freshener that smelled like that.  I’d put it above my bed!  It would alleviate all the teen smells my mom says come out of my room.    

Sporty and luxurious, the Maxima meets Japanese efficiency.  To the average person, the Maxima looks extremely sporty.  Get a little closer, and you can see the rear fenders bulge.  A bit odd, considering it is a front wheel drive car.  Still, I like the looks.

My grandma’s car is gray on black leather.  THe 290 hp engine is strong feeling/sounding, with dual exhaust pipes.  The CVT (continuesly variable transmission) has sporty paddle shifters and 6 ‘ratios’ programmed into it.  The front-wheel-drive system uses a special system, so that there is only torque steer at full throttle!  Cruising at 60 mph, the engine barely revs higher than 2200 rpm.  When my grandpa  passed a truck, the engine only reached 2450 rpm in 2nd “gear.” Cruising along, the cabin is quiet and road noise is diluted.


Way back in the 1980’s, when the Maxima came out; Nissan called the Maxima the “4DSC (4-door-sports-car)”  It really was a 4DSC!  It had a powerful V6 and a standard five-speed manual transmission.  That fame kind of went to Nissan’s head, and the Maxima started to get less sporty:  It lost it’s manual tranny, it’s sporting nature got more luxurious and relaxed.  Now, with the new Maxima, Nissan is starting to change that luxurious lump into a better car.  Sure, the Maxima ain’t no 4DSC like the Porsche Panamera; but it’s gettin’ there!  Keep up the hard work, Nissan, and you just might have a riot of a car to drive!  VROOOOM! 



Brake horsepower, what it really means

Brake horsepower (bhp) is different than horsepower.  Bhp is the output at the flywheel (a heavy, round metal plate on the end of the crankshaft that is a vibration damper, and balance member.  It also smoothes out the power pulses as each cylinder fires), as measured on a dyno-test (where the maximum amount of horsepower and torque are measured).  Back in the old days, there was a device called a “prony brake,” which was used to determine the maximum amount of torque.  Horsepower was then calculated from torque and rpm.  Horsepower is the measurement of the maximum amount of the work an engine can perform.  It can be described as a way to move a weight a given distance- to apply leverage in a given period of time. 

Here is an example:  Let’s say a 5.4 liter V8 makes 320 bhp; the hp would be about 305.  That is because the transmission’s gears have to spin all that horsepower and torque, before it gets to the driving wheels.  If there was no transmission, all 320 horsepower would be going straight to the drive wheels. 

But, since there are transmissions, the automakers often dyno-test the engines to see how powerful they are.  The Smart Car makes 80 bhp, but once the horsepower is put down to the wheels; it totals 70 horsepower.  Back in the early days, 70 horsepower would have been reserved for an airplane!  Now look at cars today, the average economy car makes 115 horsepower!        

For an example of bhp; a horse has 1 bhp, because there is no tranny or gears to turn:  Its “transmission” is simply muscles!  Now, just imagine that horse pulling a wagon.  That would bring the maximum amount of horsepower to about 0.89 horsepower.  That really isn’t much… 

Knowing how much your bhp is comes in handy if you like to tow/haul.  If you are towing and don’t know how much bhp you have, it can be kind of scary!  So be careful!  And, no, I’m not trying to be your mom!

Guessing Game

What is this thing? Animal, vegetable, mineral? No.  So what the heck is this vehicle?  It deserves its own category in the car world.  I don’t really know what kind of car it is, but it appears to look like a Ford Business Coupe body that has no paint, and a HUGE engine. 

 The engine appears to be a Dodge 392 Hemi V8 engine with what looks like a turbocharger.  The engine looks like a crate engine, and probably makes about 600 horsepower. 

 The rear roll cage is most likely custom-built, but is cool!

 The wheels look like Cragars.  Since Cragars come only in silver,

 Given an empty stretch of road, this car can probably reach up to 150 mph!  (That is, if there are no cops around!)

 On the way back home, I saw this creation being towed back home; that is, on a tow truck!  Oops! 

 Post a comment if you have a better idea of what this is.