More NASCAR Foolishness

These thugs fight on the track and when they’re not fighting they’re running into each other because they are poor sports. NASCAR should be banned.

UPDATE: Shortly after a disintegrating NASCAR vehicle spewed debris into the crowd, a spectator uploaded a terrifying clip of the accident and the aftermath to YouTube. But the clip was suddenly removed with the message, “This video contains content from NASCAR, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

The removal sparked disbelief from journalists — including myself — who wondered if NASCAR’s quick response was motivated by protecting its image rather than protecting its copyright. Then NASCAR responded with an unusual justification.

“The fan video of the wreck on the final lap of today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race was blocked on YouTube out of respect for those injured in today’s accident,” explained NASCAR in a statement to The Verge. “Information on the status of those fans was unclear and the decision was made to err on the side of caution with this very serious incident.”

Hat Tip to Lost Remote. I repeat. NASCAR is a thuggish plague on racing. From the way they run the business to the hooligans who drive the cars, it’s a disgrace.

The Porsche Diary

911

While I love my Corvettes, Jags, Jeeps and more, I have never been much of a German car fan. I’ve owned some Porsche race cars, but these have little resemblance to the street version of the famed 911. I’ve also owned some mid-50s replica cars. All of them were fine, but I never really wanted a Porsche 911 street car – until the new 2013 991 body style came out. That changed everything. It’s lighter, faster, wider, more comfortable and improved significantly. So I decided it was time to add a 911 to my stable.

After hearing about the new 911, four months ago, I walked into my favorite car dealership and ordered the 911 Carrera S of my dreams. My main concern in designing the car was style and speed. My special order car came in at just under $140k including tax, title, dealer prep, freight, destination charge, and registration. What does $140k buy? One bad-ass machine!

You can see the pictures above. This is the day the car was delivered to the dealership. I literally happened to be there on other business when it arrived. I knew it had landed at Long Beach. But I was told it could take 10 days to make it to Vegas. After four months I figured – heck – what’s another 10 days. But much to my surprise it came in five days and I am excited.

My car is white with a red leather interior. Red is a stretch – I know – and polarizing – just the way I’d like it. But the pictures on the web site and in the brochure simply don’t do the car justice. You have to see it in person to understand the impact. It’s simply amazing. The red leather interior of this car may be the nicest I’ve seen and I’ve been in some very nice cars. That red leather cost me $5200 so believe me – I was nervous. But upon seeing it I fell in love. Ordering red leather also required the addition of the 14-way power/premium seat package which was another $2940. I just had to have the PASM Sport Suspension ($890) because this car WILL see track time. I also have to have the sport exhaust ($2950.) It was either upgrade the radio or pay for the best exhaust and I’d rather hear the engine roar any day! I went with the PDK transmission – another $4080. Skeptical? Read what Randy Pobst has to say about the PDK “The PDK is fine in Sport Plus here under what are frankly race conditions given the way I’m driving the car. No complaints. When I would make a mistake, a little hot and then go to the power after missing the apex, it would kick right down smoothly without disturbing the car’s weight distribution or balance better than I could. (http://bit.ly/QXpFRR)

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After getting this far down the list there was no way I was going to order a bespoke 911 without the Sport Chrono Package ($2370.) I am most excited about the launch control that is possible with this option.

Last but not least – the biggie – the Aerokit Cup at $5990. The car was 20 days into the order stage when the Porsche manager at the dealership called me to let me know of this new option. While Porsche has offered similar kits on other cars, it wasn’t originally available on the new 991 body style 911s. Thankfully the order was still in the “changeable” stage and we added it. I am so glad. It is sexy and adds significant performance. I’ll talk more about this and the other options as the diary progresses.

So I’ve paid for the car, done the paperwork, added the car to my insurance, and got the keys. Of course this does me no good because the car is on a lift. That’s because Porsche ran out of black wheels. I ordered black but got silver. They reduced the price accordingly, so that meant getting my guy Ron from Custom Calipers to powdercoat the wheels black. He is the best and because Ron is the best this will take more time than I’d prefer. The wheels MAY be done by Friday or Saturday, but at the latest Monday.

Then I will drive this baby for the first time. Off to my favorite detailer – Mobile Command Detail in Las Vegas. (These folks are the exclusive detailer at SEMA, Barrett-Jackson and more. They even detailed Air Force One!) MCD will detail the car, condition the leather, claybar the paint, put polish and sealant on it, etc. That will take a day. Next comes the tint, clear bra and finally the graphics package. Before I modify anything else, I’m going to run the car through its mandatory 500 mile break-in period. I’ll report along the way what the experience is like.

10 Tiny Bits of Automotive News – February 19, 2013

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1. US gas prices are expected to fall over the next couple of years as fuel consumption levels off, indicating that vehicle fuel-economy gains may have positive long-term effect on everyone’s budget.

2. GM nets income of $4.9B in 2012, down from $7.9B in 2011 faults slow European sales.

3. Toyota announced it has reached a $29 million dollar settlement with the Attorneys General of 29 states and one US territory that will resolve their complaints relating to recalls performed by the automaker from 2005-2010, including those related to sticky accelerators and malfunctioning floor mats that may have contributed to cases of unintended acceleration.

4. Chrysler recalling 278,222 trucks and SUVs over bad rear axles – impacted models include Dodge Dakota, Ram 1500, Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.

5. According to Wards Auto, the initial run of 800 Vipers has already sold out with deliveries starting next month.

6. Of $418 billion disbursed through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (a program designed, started and implemented under the Bush Administration and continued by the Obama Administration) a report in Automotive News indicates that “about 93 percent” has been paid back, and the latest figures put Treasury’s loss from the program overall at $55.58 billion. That’s a $4.1 billion improvement on the last figure, when the expected red ink added up to $59.68 billion. The auto industry’s portion of that loss is estimated to be $20.3 billion, a 16-percent drop from the earlier estimate of $24.3 billion.

7. Chrysler has issued a recall for 3,660 Viper models from the 2003 and 2004 model years for sudden airbag deployment problems.

8. CNN recreates the NYT Tesla Model S drive with miles to spare. NYT says it stands by its review. Tesla suing. Everyone is taking sides. In the end it’s probably good publicity for Tesla.

9. Given lawsuits over the Toyota, Kia and Hyundai goofs on promised fuel economy, the NHTSA has said it will more closely monitor fuel mileage claims from car makers.

10. How much does it cost to crash 132 cars for a movie? How about $11 million for the new Bruce Willis Die Hard movie.

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk – Mini Review

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I’ve owned seven Jeeps in my lifetime. They offer a mixture of off-road worthiness, utility, towing capacity, luxury and day-to-day comfort that simply cannot be beat for the money. Those of you who follow me know I have some exotic cars and you may be wondering – why not a “G-Wagon” or Land Rover? Well it’s simple. Every time I set out to buy a new Jeep I dutifully run over to the Mercedes Benz and Land Rover dealers and test drive their best. Then I end up buying the Jeep. Both Mercedes and Land Rover make excellent vehicles. But for various reasons I always end up back at Jeep.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

This time it was simple. The Benz is very expensive and has a harsh ride. The Land Rover is a vehicle that is constantly improving but it’s not built for guys like me – i.e., horizontally-challenged (read that as fat) drivers. I don’t fit well in the driver’s cockpit of a Land Rover so it’s back to Jeep.

I had the first 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee to hit the west coast when they went through their re-design. It was a much improved vehicle over past years. But I did have some  problems with the car and while fixed under warranty, I chalked it up to first year quirks. That vehicle came to an unfortunate end (un-related to those problems.) So I went in search of a new one. Lucky for me – Jeep has had time to perfect the new design and when I saw the Trailhawk concept, I knew I’d be trying to buy one as soon they hit local dealerships.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I will take a time out here in the review to note that buying this Jeep was one of the more exasperating experiences of my car-buying life. I went to several dealerships in Nevada and California and in at least two of them, nobody even knew what a Trailhawk was. One guy even treated me like I was stupid. “Oh that’s just a concept car they’re never going to make,” he said. Ummm well have you looked at your own website? Another dealership was staffed by a guy who just hung up on me when I said I was interested in a Trailhawk. @Jeep on Twitter offered to help – but never did. Luckily, I found a sales manager at a local dealership in Las Vegas and all’s well that ends well. But I swear, I never had to work so hard to give up $50 grand in my life!

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Now on to the car itself. Jeep has taken an already great product and made it better for guys like me who actually take the vehicle off road. I got the Hemi (did you even have to ask?) and the rest of the Trailhawk’s list of goodies which make this one a real rocker.

Here are just some of the special features on the Trailhawk:

* Special graphics and badging.
* Stitched leather seats with Trailhawk logo. (Black with red stitching.)
* 18-inch Goodyear Silent Armor all-terrain tires with Kevlar reinforcement
* Solid steel rock rail body protection
* Quadra-Lift air suspension, with nearly 11 inches of ground clearance
* Selec-Terrain traction control system with five settings: Snow, Rock, Sand/Mud, Sport, and Auto
* Rear Electronic Limited-slip Differential (ELSD, V-8), which can transfer up to 100% of the engine’s torque to one rear wheel in order to keep the Jeep moving forward even in the most extreme situations
* Quadra-Track II or Quadra-Drive II (V-8) with a two-speed transfer case to help conquer the toughest obstacles

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

The Trailhawk has black headlamp buckets, and gray grille, rearview mirrors and wheels. All of which are not only cool looking, but designed to reduce reflections.

If you find yourself in a rocky or wet area, push a button and the Jeep raises to 10.6 inches. If you want to get low to the ground and let grandma out at the Walmart parking lot push another button and the Jeep lowers to a mere four-inch elevation.

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The tires are designed not to cut on rocks and the big, beefy steel rock rails look like they will more than do the job of protecting the body from damage off road.

The rear electronic limited-slip differential on my car, along with a two-speed transfer case allow this Jeep to tackle any environment I might try to drive in.

The vehicle performs on the open road much like the 2011 model I owned. There is one difference. It’s actually more luxurious in that it haw power lift gate, built-in GPS and better seats. But it is also a tad noisier. The Goodyear Silent Armor Kevlar tires have an aggressive off-road tread pattern that will hold you in place off the grid but which make more tire noise on the freeway.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I have plans to take this beast to Moab so I can make some photographs of areas I’ve avoided in the past for fear of getting stuck. Just playing around in the hills behind my house, the Jeep has been extremely capable on rough, rocky, dirt roads. As long as you know how to drive, the Jeep will get you there.

With dealer prep, tax, title, dealer freight, etc., I paid just shy of $50k. This is roughly $14k less expensive than the Range Rover Sport and $80K less than then Benz. And even if it weren’t less expensive, it would be my first choice.

If you want something that sets you apart from the crowd, that is luxurious and that can also get you out of town when the Zombie apocalypse hits, take a look at the Trailhawk.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

(NOTE: As shown there are just a few mods. I added tint, clear bra to lights and mirrors, a new audio head end from Alpine with JL Audio Subwoofer and Focal speakers. I also painted the brake calipers red to match the tow hooks.)

I will do a separate shorter review of the interior in a few weeks – with photos.

Highly Recommended.