Tuesday
Mar242015

The Majestic Anomaly

VIEW PHOTO GALLERYTo say that the 12 Hours of Sebring is America’s classic sports car race is doing it an injustice. This event is like no other because this place is like no other. Lost in orange grove country in the middle of Florida - which is quite literally the middle of nowhere - the circuit is a majestic anomaly. Unlike the sanitized Daytona International Speedway, which hosts America’s other endurance road racing event, Sebring is unapologetically Old School to the extreme. Yes, there have been myriad improvements to the facility over the years, but the track itself boasts some concrete surfaces which have remained untouched since its days as a pilot training base during World War II. And that’s part of Sebring’s innate charm, especially in this era of cookie-cutter speedways and orchestrated sameness that permeates so much of racing today.

But the real heart of the matter when it comes to Sebring is its brutal, unforgiving persona that has been hard won over years punctuated by both elation and crushing disappointment. Sebring has a way of breaking spirits and machines with equal measures of finality, because things happen here that are simply inexplicable. The history of this place is littered with examples of drivers cruising along with their cars in the lead and with the race in the bag, only to have it all come undone in the final hour, and sometimes even in the final minutes. To finish here is an achievement unto itself. But to win here is a triumph that endures forever.

And this year, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida as it’s officially called, was certainly no different.

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Monday
Mar232015

THE REVS INSTITUTE

FULL IMAGE GALLERY [click photo]Naples. Located in Naples, Florida, The Revs Institute is a mind-boggling tribute to the automobile. It exists, in their words, for Elevating the study of the auto.” And elevate they do. The 80,000-square-foot facility was purpose-built and again, in their words, “dedicated to achieving world-class excellence.” Mission accomplished.

While visitors will certainly be blown away by The Collier Collection… over 100 influential cars… the facility also includes a private archive and research library comprised of over a million original documents and 20,000 book titles. All available to serious researchers both on-site and online. This includes books, periodicals, over 700,000 photographic images and ephemera.

And if that weren’t enough, there is a Revs program at Stanford University. The program is an academic interdisciplinary project that focuses on the automobile as a technical, industrial and aesthetic human achievement, as well as a social change agent and powerful historical force. You can learn more about the Revs Stanford program at revs.stanford.edu.

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Monday
Feb232015

Test Drive: 2015 Nissan GT-R

 

After spending a week driving the 2015 Nissan GT-R, I came to one irrefutable conclusion: If you owned a GT-R, you’d have to get used to talking to strangers about it and having your picture taken. In over twenty years as an automotive writer, I’ve never had a car that generated as much interest as the GT-R. Every time I parked the car anywhere, people were looking at it and taking pictures of it when I returned, and people would follow me on the road to get pictures of it. I could see the car in its parking spot from my apartment and once word got out that it was there, the GT-R was getting several visits a day from kids (mostly teenage boys, but some girls too) who would take pictures of it. It even showed up on a friend of my daughters Instagram page before she even realized I had it. Just a couple weeks before getting the Nissan, I had driven a $200,000 Porsche 911 Turbo that barely got any attention, but driving the GT-R made me kind of feel like I was dating a supermodel.

Most of the GT-R’s popularity may come from its popularity in racing games, but this car has real substance when it comes to performance. At the heart of the GT-R is a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 with dual intercoolers that produces a substantial 545hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. Each engine is assembled by a single person at Nissan, a job that takes around six hours to complete. Only four individuals are given that privilege, with each engine bearing a plaque with the name of the person that built it. The engine in my test car was built by Izumi Shioya, who has been building engines for over two decades.

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