No. 848
May 25, 2016

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Still nothing else like it.

I've only been to the Indy 500 twice, but I grew up listening to it on the radio with my father. My connection to the race is reasonably deep for someone that grew up in the northeast U.S., and I block off the Memorial Day Weekend from most other activities. For sure, my wife knows that the race is paramount in my mind and nothing else will get attention that Sunday.

I was glued to the tube for the portions of qualifying that were broadcast this past weekend. And what struck me yet again, and particularly that first time I was there (sitting right in the heart of turn 1), was the sheer speed with which the cars go into that difficult first corner, the one that seems enveloped with grandstands. I kept searching for a metaphor, but all I can come up with is flying a fighter jet through a narrow tunnel. Which, of course, does not really do it justice.

It just has to be seen in person, as one can hardly fathom that cars approaching at 240+mph are going to stick to the ground through those sweeping corners. (Frankly, it boggles my feeble mind.) Thank goodness the corners are very long!

So, come Sunday, and like many here, I will take to the living room and tune into the events coming from the Racing Capital of The World. Personally, I'll be rooting on the one win gang from Nazareth, PA (not too far from where I grew up), and specifically young Marco. But I'll be enjoying the entire spectacle from the place that is our national landmark of speed.

As is often said, there is nothing else like it.

Atlanta, Georgia



Forever Indy.

Like so many other AE readers, I grew up listening to Sid Collins call the 500 for as long as I can remember. Peter, you capture the fascination of the place, but Sid Collins could shine a light on its soul. Don't know if you remember his final sign off in 1976, before his passing in 1977, but here is an excerpt:

Sid Collins' Final 500 Sign-off (1976):

"So now, the 60th running of the 500 here is now history. Since 1911, the hypnotic effect of speed upon driver and spectator alike is never dim. The run from the green flag to the checkered and on to Victory Lane here is a pursuit only one man in the world can accomplish once a year. Today, once again, Johnny Rutherford etched his name and his achievement upon the granite of time. He reigns supreme as the champion of the sport of auto racing this day and forever more. The massive crowd of more than 350,000 has threaded its way towards the exit gates as their eyes have taken a final sweep over the track before departing. For some, this has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, others will come back, but in every case, it's always difficult to relinquish one's grasp on the pulsating emotion that is the 500. And at this microphone we share that reaction of having to say goodbye to you across the many miles that separate us. But, another icy Indiana winter will come and go, and before we know it, springtime returns, it will be May, and the roar of engines will once again breathe life into the lazy Hoosier sky and bring us back together. God willing, I'll be here to greet you for this annual reunion through our mutual love of auto racing and the Indianapolis 500…

… And now this final thought for our winner. Enthusiasm with wisdom will carry a man further than any amount of intellect without it. The men who have most-powerfully influenced the world have not been so much men of genius, as they have been men of strong conviction with an enduring capacity for work coupled with enthusiasm and determination. Johnny Rutherford showed these qualities today in becoming victorious over the Indianapolis 500…

… So until next May, this is Sid Collins, the Voice of the 500, wishing you good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, depending upon where in the world you are right now. We're here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, at the Crossroads of America. Goodbye."

Decatur, Georgia



No, it's not just you.

Is it just me or does the Vanquish Zagato Concept look like a Mustang? Not a bad thing but come on AM, show some originality.

I saw my second Alfa Romeo 4C yesterday. Sales in the US are now up to 412. Party on!

Bill Linder
Lakewood, Washington

Taking the plunge.

After reading about all these great luxury cars on AutoExtremist, I gave in to practical instinct and actually bought a Mercedes 2013 c300 3.5 sport 4matic----Thanks-----I will report back in a year or so as to how this car compares to my former Focus, 200, Pacifica, Intrepid, Camry, Caliber, Ram, etc. etc. etc.

Just joking--I wish I had one like this c300 years ago--I can imagine how nice the others are (non entry level model) also.

Kenosha, Wisconsin


His 37th Indy 500!

When I grew up in Indiana in the 1970s the race was everything. Every night after the local news there was a half-hour program covering the day's news from the track. Huge crowds filled the place for qualifying. And the drunks turned the soggy mud-hole inside turn into the famous ‘Snake Pit’.

Most years we've brought along someone new for their first race and their expressions at the start are actually some of my favorite memories. They just cannot fathom how 33 cars can suddenly go by faster than the eye can tell them apart.

All the criticism of the rules and format of the race hold some truth … I'm still mad they aren't all racing turbine engines! … but all in all, it's a unique and amazing event that can only fully be appreciated live and in person.

Austin, Texas


The Brickyard.

My first memory of Indy is sitting in my dad's tri-power '67 Corvette coupe in my uncle's driveway listening to the race instead of playing with my cousins in the back yard. As a kid Indy and the Can Am series captured my attention and I devoured every weekly issue of Competiton Press (Autoweek) looking for pictures of guys like Mario, Parnelli and AJ in action. I finally experienced it in person in 1989 and witnessed the high drama of the Fittipaldi-Unser Jr battle that ended with Emmo victorious and Little Al spectating for the last lap. We had seats in a little grandstand that no longer exists at pit in at the exit of turn 4. We had top row tickets and a great view of both the racing surface and the mini Woodstock known as the “snake pit” going on behind us. To this day I still remember two things like it was yesterday, the hair standing up on the back of my neck when the pack emerged from silence in Turn 4 for the first time at full song heading for the green flag and 250,000 people suddenly going silent when Kevin Cogan hit the wall exiting Turn 4 then hitting the inside wall right in front of us and skating down pit lane in a smoking upside down heap from which he crawled out of basically unhurt! It truly is the Cathedral of Speed!

Holly, Michigan



The House of Cadillac.

The breathless news about “Cadillac House” (how very referential, not to say imitative) had me scurrying to the Google to see how hip and trendy Cadillac sales are at the moment. Down 29% in April. Reminds me of Jay Leno's classic joke about the first Infiniti campaign: “The car isn't selling, but sales of rocks and trees are way up.” Something tells me actual “hipsters” will be pretty thin on the ground, but there will be plenty of wannabes flying in from Southeastern Michigan. Bread and circuses.

Louisville. Kentucky



Auto enthusiasts will be rounded up and shot at sunrise.

I read the tea leaves a little differently. Think of the money being set aside by VW for their diesel flap, A sizable portion of those billions is for litigation and remediation of individual cars owned by millions of individuals globally. The same goes for any manufacturer for any recall. Parts shortages, lack of trained techs to expedite recalls in a timely fashion, and of course, whiny, victimized consumers, half or so of which don't get the recalls done are a huge drain on profits and stock prices. The Answer is to eliminate the largest expense; the owners themselves. All of the big guns in the industry are snapping up ride sharing services as fast as they appear. Autonomous vehicle tech is the current opiate of Big Motor. The future as I see it has the OEMs eliminate retail sales altogether. As autonomousisity (?) becomes convention in vehicles while manual operation goes the way of wooden spoke wheels, the OEMs could then own, maintain and rent/lease the vehicles themselves. Used cars? No market anymore, so right to the crusher; all the money saved by pandering and marketing to individual owners makes this more efficient. I'm just glad that I was born during the Truman administration for I see what's coming as a community shared, 3D-printed bowl of not good.

Chris Blanchard
Prescott, Wisconsin

Haven't we seen this before?

I get the rush to not be left in the dust when it comes to ride sharing, autonomous vehicles, etc. But I wonder if these companies were in the proverbial tank would they be so quick to partner up with these new tech companies? Or is this a case of having tons of cash and nothing else to do? Ford has been burned by this before and something tells me it's going to happen again. There is nothing scarier than a CEO with a stack of cash that thinks he is smarter than the last CEO that had a stack of cash. I've seen this movie before and it ends the same way every time.

Plymouth, Michigan

Not gonna happen.

Two questions for you about this week's rant: 1.) 'BMW will be sold." Why? Did I miss something? They are like most of the rest of the car makers: they make something for every segment; they just charge more on average. And 2.) Mercedes will partner up with someone: After the Daimler-Chrysler anschluss, who would be next to partner with an outfit that will step in, bleed the “partner” dry, then walk away?

D.J. Mann
Henderson, Nevada

Editor-in-Chief's Note: The Quandt family controls most of the BMW shares. It is said that the family will "never" sell, but they've contemplated cashing out before and they'll do it again. And despite the "we're so successful we can't stand it!" blather, Daimler needs more cash and a partner would help them, immensely. They like being independent only until a better deal comes along. And they will do a deal before being taken over by somebody bigger. -PMD

Or maybe not.

If I had even a sliver of the ridiculous amount of money Cadillac is squandering on creating the House of Cadillac “experience”, I would book a flight to New York just to revel in the folly of this nonsensical misadventure. I imagine myself walking in on June 2nd for the Soho grand opening. I am greeted warmly by Johan, Uwe, Melody, and the cadre of Millennial Marketing Misfits. I immediately take in the aroma of the special scent that has been exclusively created for Cadillac. My visual senses are dazzled by the sophisticated objet d'art on display. I am enticed to peruse the daring fashion available. I will then order a Cup de Ville from the environmentally friendly and socially responsible Joe Coffee purveyor. And I will be forever changed having been steeped in the Cadillac brand experience…

Royal Oak, Michigan


Why are you so soft on Hyundai-Kia?

Janet Onishchuk
Detroit, Michigan

Editor-In-Chief's Note: Soft on Hyundai-Kia? Hmm, you must be a new reader because I have been absolutely brutal on the Koreans for years. But the Korean overlords have finally gotten the message and have hired some of the top designers in the world and some of the best suspension and product development people in the business. Thus armed, the potential for an upward trajectory for Hyundai-Kia is very high. -PMD

Lost in the details.

I laugh every time I read it. Who will Mercedes-Benz swoop in and bleed dry next like they did Chrysler? The only one who got bled dry was Mercedes-Benz. Sure 36 billion was a “bargain” but nothing compared to the bargain that FCA got when MB sold it for 7.4 billion plus! How is that “bleeding them dry?” My math isn't greatest but that is a loss of $29 billion dollars plus. What did they “get out of the deal?” Zero, zip, zilch nada thing.

Look I'll be the first to bash Mercedes-Benz for their bone-headedness but, like buying Chrysler in the first place, but you will never hear me say they are the ones who caused all of Chrysler's troubles. Chrysler did that all by their little lonesome.

T.C. Scott
Central Iowa

Editor-In-Chief's Note: Let's set the record straight here. Cerberus was the Private Equity company that acquired Chrysler from Daimler for a song after Daimler had turned its $36 billion investment into chump change in eight years, by far one of the dumbest moves in automotive history. Cerberus - with stumblebum "Minimum Bob" Nardelli at the helm - then proceeded to run what was left of Chrysler right into the ground. That set the stage for the subsequent bankruptcy and the Obama administration handing Marchionne Chrysler for $6 billion, all-in, which was the steal of the century. -PMD

Why yes... yes we did.

Oh no. You mean autonomous cars have replaced flying cars as just around the corner? Did you check with Mechanics Illustrated?

Chuck B.
Rockville, Maryland

And The Darkness descended upon the industry.

I snorted out loud when reading the options list in this week's review of the Chevy Cruze. I presume the names for the grey interior colours “Dark Atmosphere” and “Medium Atmosphere” were selected for the Beijing market??

Dave G.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada



Ask J.R. Hildebrand about The Glorious Unpredictability of the Indianapolis 500. One turn away from glory and it all went away into the Turn Four wall.

Mark Weaver
Auburn Hills, Michigan