Editor-In-Chief’s Note: I heard that several executive operatives with ties to their companies’ respective NASCAR racing programs were more than a little dismayed with my column last week entitled, “NASCAR’s CHIEF ENABLERS.” Okay, pissed-off would be more accurate. The gist of the comments that got back to me insisted that the manufacturer relationship with NASCAR couldn’t be better, that with ex-GM executive Brent Dewar managing the partnership for NASCAR, it’s all good and going in a positive direction. Except that’s what I would expect manufacturer NASCAR operatives to say, because no one wants to upset the applecart that has come to define the existing relationship. Why? When you have a relationship based on "we’ve always done things this way" inertia, it would require too much effort to sit down and study what is really going on. Besides, too many mini-fiefdoms would be exposed and too many hard questions would have to be asked. Here’s the deal – did I suggest that the auto companies pull out of NASCAR immediately? No. That would be absurd. But right now the manufacturers aren’t getting nearly enough out of their relationship with NASCAR. They are merely functioning as Side Show Bobs, ably abetting the NASCAR marketing machine. Which is why I believe the relationship needs to be blown up and then reevaluated, before it is started up again. The manufacturers simply aren’t getting enough out of NASCAR. Period. Not enough technology. Not enough common sense. Not enough active safety (as in eliminating the restrictor-plate race stupidity). Not enough manufacturer-focused marketing, etc. And one day, the right person – or the wrong person in terms of NASCAR’s interests, as the case may be – in the position to do something about it is going to start asking the tough questions. And as the NASCAR enablers in the manufacturer racing departments scurry around trying to react and come up with palatable answers, the sudden realization will wash over them that they could have and should have done something about this a long, long time ago. And when that time comes to pass, I certainly won’t hesitate to launch a withering “I told you so”. -PMD
With faster upshifts than a dual-clutch transmission and a wider overall gear ratio spread to optimize performance and efficiency, Chevrolet says that the all-new available Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission sets a new performance standard in the 2017 Camaro ZL1 – and raises the bar for the segment. Chevrolet testing has shown the ZL1 with the available 10-speed has faster shift times than the Porsche PDK dual-clutch transmission - 36-percent quicker than the PDK in the 1-2 upshift, and the 2-3 and 3-4 upshifts are 27-percent and 26-percent quicker, respectively. Chevrolet says that hundreds of hours were spent integrating the 10-speed’s shift performance with the unique power band of the ZL1’s supercharged 6.2L LT4 engine, which is estimated at 640 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque. The new ZL1 - with an updated Magnetic Ride suspension, Performance Traction Management, electronic limited-slip differential and Custom Launch Control and Driver Mode Selector - is expected to be the first volume production car to offer a 10-speed automatic. The 10-speed will be produced with an all-new manufacturing system at GM’s propulsion manufacturing facility in Romulus, Mich. It’s part of a $323-million investment in the facility, which employs 850 hourly and salaried workers.
The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este bills itself as the world’s most exclusive heritage event for historic automobiles and motorcycles. The event dates back to the year 1929, when the first exhibition entitled “Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este” was held in Cernobbio, Northern Italy, as a showcase for new launches in the automobile sector. This was followed by decades of inconsistent events, unfortunately. The BMW Group became the patron of the event in 1999 and since 2005, BMW Group Classic has joined forces with the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este to organize the show. The theme for this year’s classic weekend is “Back to the Future – the Journey continues” and it reflects BMW’s centenary motto “The Next 100 Years.” The concept of the event and the exhibited vehicles encompass a combination of tradition and vision. Concept Cars & Prototypes will be featured, a unique classification not replicated in any of the world’s other classic events. The vehicles presented express the creative passion of leading designers in our time, along with their perspective on the future. The focus is on the current visions for automobile design in tomorrow’s world, as a counterpoint for the retrospective show of important historic vehicles. The Concorso d’Eleganza Design Awards are decided by public vote. BMW Group Classic is presenting the special exhibition “Hommage and Concept Vehicles” in the Padiglione Centrale at Villa Erba. The show demonstrates how closely history and the present day are intertwined.
The BMW 328 Hommage appeared at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in 2011.
The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R.
The BMW Motorrad Concept Ninety.
The BMW Vision Next 100.
Editor's Note: Ford has just released "Let's Race" - the third of five chapters in “The Return,” which is a long-form documentary that follows the development of both the street car and race car versions of the Ford GT from the decision to build the cars to the return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Watch chapter one, "The Decision," here and chapter two, "The Cutting Edge," here. (FYI: The Autoextremist makes a cameo appearance in chapter one.) -WG