Monday
Oct062014

IMSA and TUDOR United Sports Car Racing Begin a New Chapter at Petit Le Mans.

VIEW FULL GALLERY HERE!Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, Clap along if you know what happiness is to you. Because I’m happy…

In the spirit of consistency, my Rolex 24 review is HERE! Feel free to review it for what I thought then… and what I think 10 months later.

The weather was a cool version of spectacular and, much to the credit of tradition, the fans were out in record numbers. Whether they understood what they were watching… or even cared for that matter, remains an unanswered question. Personally, I look at the grid and even I’m confused. In fact, I’m not sure I could explain it in a way a new comer would understand.

The race, now changed to run a full 10 hours, logged a record 13 cautions. Yeah… I know.

Ricky and Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli (No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta Corvette DP) won the Petit Le Mans - the 10-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season finale at Road Atlanta - holding off the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP by 11.062 seconds. The trio completed 400 laps – 1,016 miles – as the brothers became the first American-born drivers to win the event overall. “It’s a great way to end the year,” Jordan Taylor said. “We’ve won the last race the last three seasons, and it’s a great trend we hope to continue. My dad won the first Petit Le Mans, so we’ve always heard about this race. He always talks highly about it, putting it up with Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring, We’ve had the car to beat the last two races, so we’re definitely looking forward to next season.”

The Action Express team also clinched the TUDOR Championship team title with the waving of the green flag, and less than two hours later Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa had driven the required distance to secure the drivers’ crown. (Sebastien Bourdais completed the driver line-up at Road Atlanta.) At the eight-hour mark, the team wrapped up the $100,000 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup team championship by leading the second segment in the competition rewarding competitors for high finishes in the four endurance races in the TUDOR Championship: the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.  “This team was unbelievable since the end of last season,” Barbosa said. “We worked all winter for the big challenge of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. It was a big task for a small team, but we had a great year. We were the only team to compete every lap in all of the races. We had eight podiums in 11 races, three great victories, and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Patrón Endurance Cup – what a great year for Action Express.”

Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Scott Dixon (No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Telcel Ford EcoBoost/Riley) finished third overall, one lap down.

Bryan Sellers, Wolf Henzler and Marco Holzer (No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR) won the GTLM class at Petit Le Mans. “Before the restart (near the end of the race), I asked and they said there were a couple of prototypes between us [and second place], so I thought maybe I’d be safe,” said Henzler, who beat Michael Christensen to the stripe by a mere 0.937 seconds. “I had three laps and I was able to keep my pace and keep him behind. He never could really attack me, but he was close.”

Michael Christensen, Patrick Long and Earl Bamber (No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR) finished second in GTLM to win the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup team championship, while Christensen and Long won the Patrón Endurance Cup driver championship. Porsche won the manufacturer championship in the four-race endurance competition, which also included the races at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen.

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Monday
Jul282014

TUDOR: De Lorenzo Has Something To Say.

Detroit. It sounded good initially. Oh never mind, who am I kidding? When NASCAR’s Jim France bought the now defunct American Le Mans Series from Don Panoz lock, stock and barrel, it was a foregone conclusion that it wasn’t going to go smoothly. What were we all expecting to happen, exactly? That by some miracle the new Tudor United SportsCar Series would somehow work out and that American sports car racing would emerge from its media obscurity and break out of its perpetual little bubble of indifference to become an actual thing? Not a chance.

Not that everyone involved hasn’t put forth a supreme effort to bring the two disparate racing series together and form a winning entity, because they have. As a matter of fact it has been simply amazing to see what the powers that be have been able to accomplish, and I take my hat off to one and all for that. But sadly, it isn’t enough.

The obvious problem? The USCS is trying to please two entities, the ACO - which controls the 24 Hours of Le Mans - and the gentlemen racers who populated the old Grand-Am series with their Daytona Prototypes. This just in: It isn’t working and this situation is going nowhere good.

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Sunday
Jul272014

Test Drive: A Tale of Two Mazda's 

As a car enthusiast, it’s almost impossible to not have a soft spot in your heart for Mazda. Even if you prefer American muscle cars or European sports cars, Mazda’s commitment to building affordable, engaging cars and a fervent dedication to motorsport is worthy of respect, and the fact that the “fun to drive” ingredients are infused into everything from the MX-5 Miata to the CX-9 sport utility vehicle makes it hard to find a Mazda that’s not going to put a smile on your face.  Having owned two CX-9’s as family cars over the last six years I was already sold on Mazda, but I gained even more admiration for the brand after spending a week each driving the latest 2014 MX-5 Miata roadster and Mazda6 sedan.

MX-5 Miata

When Mazda says “on any given weekend, there are more Mazda’s on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle,” the MX-5 Miata gets most of the credit. Ever since it was introduced, the Miata has been raced in SCCA or pro racing series such as the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, where Miata’s finished 1-2 in the Street Tuner class at Sebring and swept the podium at Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park. The Miata is also a perennial favorite of the track day crowd, as it’s not only  well-balanced and fun to drive, but is also very reliable and inexpensive to maintain.

The 2014 MX-5 Miata sticks with the same recipe that has made it such a success from its beginning, with a front-engine, rear-drive layout with near perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Power comes from a two-liter 16-valve four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing that puts out 167hp at 7,000rpm and 140 lb-ft of torque at 5,000rpm. Those numbers don’t look all that impressive, but since it’s relatively light in weight at 2,593 pounds, that engine gives the Miata enough motivation to scoot to 60mph in a little over six seconds.

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