Tommy Kendall returns to Trans Am

srt

This morning’s news comes out of the Trans Am paddock, where it has been announced that four time T/A series champion Tommy Kendall will be returning to the iconic racing series, at the wheel of a bright green Dodge Challenger SRT in the TA2 category. The first outing for the Miller Racing prepared Challenger will be this weekend at Mid-Ohio.

The timing is perfect to put guys like Paul Tracy, Tony Stewart, Montoya and even Villeneuve in to showroom based cars. Mustang, Camaro, Challenger: all are back (or still) in showrooms. Bring on BMW’s 1 series and Nissan’s 370Z for a bit of nostalgic spice to the group. Run the cars in a showroom stock configuration again so the fans can relate. Think those drivers above won’t add enough excitement? How about bringing in guys like Michael Andretti, Little Al, David Donohue to add in a bit more historic star power? If memory serves, I think Unser may have driven the tubie cars at some point in the Eighties. The time couldn’t be better for auto manufacturers to be involved in a series like this. Indeed they could once again benefit from Win on Sunday….

I wrote those words back in 2008, when the T/A series had just been re-launched after a bit of a hiatus. Six years later, it looks like they are finally beginning to pull the package together.

The T/A folks are understandably chuffed to have the entry in the field for a number of reasons. Kendall spent some time away from the driver’s seat and while he may not offer the immediate name recognition as a driver with a name like Andretti, many younger fans know his personality as a motorsport color commentator and host of a few television shows on Speed, which certainly gives the driver more star power than anyone else in the field.
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Monterey 2014: Steve McQueen’s 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

275

There was a time when a classic car auction catalog was just that, a book. Maybe in colour, maybe just ink on newsprint. Thankfully, the internet has changed that and auction houses can now create actual content which engages viewers. Not only does this content enlighten prospective buyers, but it allows the auction house to truly showcase what makes a car special.

Some, like the car in the video below are just so much more special than others.

Canadian auction giant RM Auctions will be selling this classic Ferrari, once owned by the king of cool, Steve McQueen, on Saturday at Monterey. It is expected to fetch somewhere between eight to twelve million bucks.

The short film includes commentary by some of the guys who cared for the car during its time with the actor, and offers a bit of a glimpse into the man himself.

Source RM Auctions via Youtube

Dodge Charger Hellcat: The horsepower madness grows

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Just in case the Challenger Hellcat wasn’t enough for you, the Dodge Boys have dropped the Hellcat engine into the recently revised Charger, to create the world’s most powerful, quickest and fastest sedan.

Thanks to 12% more slippery aero, the Charger will top out at 5 mph more than the Challenger. For the record, that means that this family hauler will do 204 Miles Per Hour!

It will get there quickly too….

0-60 = 3.7 seconds.

11 seconds flat in the quarter mile.

All of this comes straight from the showroom, complete with street tires.

Check out this morning’s media reveal at the Vinsetta Garage on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Stay In, Stay Safe – The Kevin Ward Jr. Rule

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By now you no doubt already know that there was an incident at a dirt track in up-state New York over the weekend that resulted in the death of 20 year old Kevin Ward Jr. when he was struck by a competitor’s car. That car happened to be driven by NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

Unlike seemingly every other media outlet, The Garage Blog will not be displaying the sole video of the incident out of respect to Ward’s family and good taste in general. Viewing the video does nobody any good, especially not those who know nothing about motorsports or more specifically, sprint car racing.

Likewise, I have never seen winged sprint cars race in person, nor have I driven one of the very specialized machines, so I can’t comment on things like visibility and lack of control at low speeds. Nor should you, or any of these other mainstream media talking heads.

What I will say is that the testosterone fueled displays of anger that have become common place at race tracks across the planet have gotten out of hand and have to stop.

There was a time when oval track racers with a beef would beat the tar out of each other in the paddock, pit lane or even the winner’s circle, after a race. At some point that was outlawed and driver’s began showing their displeasure trackside, as the driver they were angry with passed by under yellow. Usually the display includes a shaken fist, a flipped bird or even a thrown helmet. Childish behaviour at best, tragic at worst as we have learned this weekend.

In road racing, it is a very common rule that the driver of a car which is stopped on track must remain in their car, with safety equipment intact, until given the all clear to exit the car by safety workers. The exception to this is when the car is on fire. The reasons for this are many, not the least of which is that inside the car is the safest place for a driver to be while the track is still hot. From an attitudinal standpoint, the combination of rage, adrenaline and possibly even disorientation following a crash is not a good one when it comes to walking around a live track.

Tragedy in motorsport often leads to innovation and the creation of new rules designed to protect those involved in the sport. To that end, musician and oval track racer Derick Hamrick has started a petition to vote for the creation of The Kevin Ward Jr. Rule, with the tagline Stay In, Stay Safe which puts a name to what the road racing crowd has done for years.

I think it is a great idea. If you agree, please click on the link below and sign the petition.

Stay In, Stay Safe – The Kevin Ward Jr. Rule Petition

MINI owners invade Niagara

David Duncan, VP of MINI of the Americas and Adam Shaver, Director of MINI Canada post at the Falls with a pair of patriotic MINIs.

David Duncan, VP of MINI of the Americas and Adam Shaver, Director of MINI Canada post at the Falls with a pair of patriotic MINIs.

From the feel good files comes the 2014 edition of MINI Invasion in the Niagara Region, where American MINI owners who were taking part in MINI Takes the States, ventured north for a fantastic day of activities at historic Fort George.

Completed in 1802, the fort was absolutely the best spot on the continent to host a meeting of American and Canadian fans of a British icon. The British army built the place, which was attacked and taken by American forces in 1813. After the Brits beat back the Americans later in the year at other locations, the Americans pretty much abandoned what is now the Canadian part of Niagara region, allowing the British to reclaim their fort.

The battlefield outside of the fort came to life yesterday with the sounds of first wave style Brit rock, from the Beatles to Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones to The Stranglers. My kind of tunes!


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Ride along with James Hinchcliffe during crazy Mid-Ohio start

ufd start

I hate to admit it, but I rarely get the chance to sit down and watch a race on television, even though motorsports is my lifelong passion. The reality is that I spend so much of my week immersed in auto racing news and happenings, that when I am not actually at the track, I’m not likely to sit down to watch. I don’t even PVR most races now, because I just won’t watch them. It would really suck for me when cool stuff happens, but there is the internet and I don’t miss any of the cool stuff my friends do.

Long time friend of The Garage Blog, James Hinchcliffe, is one of the coolest guys on the IndyCar circuit, but he also has the worst racer’s luck of just about anyone. I have my fingers crossed that this epic march through traffic at this weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio is the beginning of some great luck.

The Mayor of Hinchtown stayed calm and had some wicked good luck on his side during this one.

Is this the rumoured Porsche Cayman 4-banger we’ve heard about?

fart

Just the other day, as my mind rambled across random automotive topics as it is wont to do, I wondered if Porsche would ever be silly enough to re-invent the 912. Despite the sad reality that Porsche’s unpopular previous attempt at a four cylinder 911 is rising in value in today’s collectors market, the idea of a four pot 911 was poorly received the first time around.

As auto manufacturers work to improve overall fuel economy for their fleets, many are looking to smaller displacement engines, boosted by light pressure turbo chargers, to provide performance alongside economy. Porsche is not immune to this phenomenon it seems.

As recently as April, Road & Track reported that Porsche has been experimenting with flat four engines that had been installed in 991 and 981/Boxster/Cayman mules, but that the engines would not end up in a production version of the 911.
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Driven: 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

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While taking part in a recent Mercedes-Benz Canada Mastering Performance school at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park recently, I had an interesting experience with of all things, a B-Class. The event, hosted by Mercedes-Benz Durham, saw students rotate through three groups of vehicles through the afternoon. Each group had a selection of three different models, with the leading instructor in a fourth. One grouping, which may seem unlikely to the non-enthusiast public, included a B-Class along with an ML and a GL, both of which were powered by MB’s super torque-y diesel engines.

As we rotated through the three vehicles, my two driving “partners” were comparing notes and both complained that the B-Class did not belong on a race track, as it couldn’t get out of its own way. Alrighty then. Bearing in mind that both of these gents were dealership customers, taking part in their first performance driving school, I took their comments with a grain of salt as I slid behind the wheel of the family hauler.

As the lead student in this session, I used the semi standard signal of pushing the instructor to make her aware that I wanted to go faster. As the speeds picked up, I found that the B-Class was actually surprisingly adept at handling the legendary Mosport Grand Prix circuit’s elevation changes and high speed curves. It is very much a momentum machine, as one really needs to limit their use of the brakes and keep the engine spinning to exit lower speed corners with any sort of oomph.
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For Sale: 500,000th Civic ever made, a 1985 with ZERO MILES!

$_20

I’m not sure what the back story is on this car and how it got out of Honda’s possession and into the hands of a dealer, but this is said to be the 500,000th Honda Civic ever produced. The seller has listed the silver hatch on Kijiji, which is a Canadian classifieds site that is part of the ebay empire, but without the auction action.

The fact that the car is listed for just $7,900 CDN (that is $7243.92 USD at today’s rates) makes me wonder if this is a legit sale. Surely a significant, un-driven model of Civic like this would command more on ebay for some Honda fanatic. I know a bunch of Eighties car crazy guys who would kill to own this car.

Ed Note: Brennan Baart, from the dealer who is selling the car just sent me the following details about the car.

We are an independent dealer and we have ties to the Honda store we purchased it from. They are doing a remodel and have no space for it any longer. It is a brand new 1985 honda civic. It is a benchmark car as this vehicle was the 500,000th car that honda made as per the vin number. So they pulled it off the assembly line, parked it in the showroom, painted 500,00th car on both sides as vinyl wasnt available at that time, painted on the hood 1985 and it has been in the showroom since. The car looks, drives and shows as a brand new car, its quite the conversation piece here on the lot. Let me know if we can be of further service.

Thanks for the tip Lesley!

Source: Kijiji

Watch Don Garlits break the 200 MPH barrier 50 years ago today!

gg_swamp rat

Fifty years ago today, a guy they used to call The Floridian, set off down the 1/4 mile strip at Island Dragway in Great Meadows, New Jersey. When he tripped the finish lights, Don Garlits became the first man to hit 200 MPH in the quarter. Fifty years ago! 201.34 MPH in Swamp Rat VI.

That record was not without controversy however, as Chris “The Greek” Karamesines, reportedly topped out at 204.54 in Illinois on April 4, 1960.

Garlits was and remains no stranger to breaking records, having been the first to break 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, and 270. Now, at 84 years young, Garlits is working to be the first to break 200 in an electric dragster.
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