Without question, the most fun that I have ever legally had in a vehicle was when I took my 250+ horsepower mini truck to an autocross-like event at my local air force base. It was put together by a driving school, which I had heard about through a friend of a friend. The driving instructors were mostly made up of
crash Spec Miata racers, who all had decades of real racing experience behind them. Needless to say, it made for an extraordinarily thrilling day for everyone in attendance.
Since we were going to be
brutally beating driving our own vehicles on the course, we began the day with pre-race vehicle inspections. The driving instructors needed to make sure that none of us had any planned trips to the nearby hospital. Once all of the vehicles passed the safety test, we signed a waiver and began learning the basics of autocrossing. Certain cones meant certain things, and if you ignored the rules, you would likely end up looking like a jerk in one way or another. Got it. The walk around the track and basic training eventually wrapped up, and it was finally time to run our cars (ehem… trucks…) with our new driving, racing, and acronym knowledge.
The following several hours were spent pushing our vehicles to the limits, and generally having the times of our lives. It has now been about 3 or 4 years since that fondly remembered summer day, and I still get overly excited thinking about how much fun it was. The amount that I learned, and the amount of fun that I had is simply inexplainable to this day.
Fast forward to last week, and I just so happened to come across an extremely cool website. It takes the place of my “friend of a friend” by helping you find the nearest auto racing schools to where you are. It’s known as: “Auto-Racing-Schools.FindTheBest.com“, and if you are reading this, you should definitely check it out. Some of the racing schools listed on the site are far more serious than what I did, but I would bet the knowledge gained is exponentially more serious as well. The other excellent part of this website is the fact that if you are a driving or racing school, you can add your business to the list and potentially get your name out there to the masses. Look, we all just want to drive our cars like we stole them, and we want to do it without landing behind bars. So go tell your family and friends to pool together a birthday present for you, and get yourself into the racing scene! Even better, bring me along!
Is it the 14.3 second quarter mile times that make this car so outrageously awesome? Could it be the 390 V8? Maybe it’s the 4-speed transmission and the limited slip differential? Glass packs? Nope, all wrong-o! Every one of those guesses are 100 percent, dead wrong. It’s the hood. Yes, the whole hood and nothing but the hood is what makes this car so outrageously awesome. Back in the late 1960′s, when other manufacturers were doing simple scoops and decals, AMC came out and changed the game. The designers at AMC were probably all like “Let’s put a giant bird catcher on this thing! Yeah! Then, let’s make sure people know why we did it! I’m talking decals, engine sizes, arrows and hood pins! We need to lock down the hood game, and bring it to the masses!” And so they did… AMC clamped it, double stamped it, locked it, and then nailed it down so well, that it made everybody else on the drag strip look ridiculous. Nicely done SC/Rambler, nicely done. You’re a true champion and everybody knows it.
Sometimes your engine starts making a noise, and the only way to make it go away is by turning the stereo up louder. Time passes and the noise under the hood has progressed into a dull roar. With a simple clockwise spin of the knob, the stereo volume increases by an equal amount. This seesaw of events continues until your tweeters are nothing but static and you feel like you are trapped inside the woofer. The racket from your engine bay is completely unbearable, and jerking the wheel seems like the best option. Knowing that bad news awaits under your hood, you reluctantly pull over and take a peek. In the spot where your tensioner bearings once lived is an empty pit of nothingness. Sadly, the bearings are long since scattered along the roadside, never to be seen again. Your miles are officially numbered. I’m not a gypsy, but I’d say a Belt Tensioner is in your future.
Real life? You bet it is.
Last week, this video popped up on the interwebs. It consists of a camera strapped to a 650+ horsepower Ariel Atom. Not familiar with the Atom you say? Well, just imagine an F1 car that you can drive on the street. It is sort of like that, but less expensive. It’s not a luxury or winter vehicle by any means, but it will out corner any other vehicle in your neighborhood, and make your friends shriek out profanity. The one in this video was apparently built by RealStreetPerformance in Orlando Florida. It claims to have 650+ horsepower coming from a K20 Honda engine with the help of some forced induction. The power is sent through a 6-speed to the rear wheels, which clearly makes for one serious hell ride.
Can’t see the video? Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUl-4BPLgfQ
Ariel Atom Website
We left off part four of the Chevy Impala project with me parking the car in the yard, and taking a year or two off. Sad I know… However, during that little break, I cleared my mind, and finally built myself a garage to work in. On March 15th (read: cold, snow on the ground), I started building the garage from my own plans with a borrowed nail gun. 7 months later, I gathered some friends, and pushed my Impala into its new home. By that time, it was beginning to get colder, and even though I was indoors, the non-insulated garage was too chilly to work inside. 5 more months pass, and spring 2011 has finally arrived.
We left off with the quarter panel being fitted, but it didn’t really sit on there quite right. It was also intended for a hardtop, so I had to slice the top of it off. This update is how I went about fitting the convertible metal to the hardtop quarter. I began with a hole where some old metal belonged.
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Travis Pastrana is a man of many things, he’s more of a modern-day daredevil if you will. Mr. Pastrana has been very successful in a variety of goals that he has set out to achieve in life.
You may have seen him jump out of a plane without a parachute (yes you’ve read that right), only to obtain one from a friend in mid-air while plummeting towards the earth, or was it when he smashed the 12-year-old Mt. Washington Auto Road Record by 20 seconds!
Hmmm… Well There’s this Pastrana guy in the X Games that has won 16 medals (11 of which are gold), yes this is the same Travis Pastrana. The guy is simply amazing at pretty much anything he sets his mind to.
Travis has stated that he would love to become involved in Nascar. He has run three Nascar K&N series races in an effort to prepare for his driving debut in the Nationwide series this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Travis has struggled a bit in the K&N series. With a 6Th, 22ND and 25Th place finish, he realizes there’s quite a bit to learn behind the wheel of a stock car.
Travis Pastrana has signed a three-year agreement with Michael Waltrip, forming Pastrana-Waltrip Racing. Pastrana said that he realizes that there is alot to learn, and that he doesn’t expect to have instant success right away in the Nationwide Series. Most of his success in racing has come from non asphalt forms of racing, but he wanted to try his hand in Nascar to see what happens.
Michael Waltrip also said that he was excited to work with Pastrana, and that it’s going to take a little while for him to learn how to drive a cup car and communicate with a crew chief, but seemed very excited about the partnership.
The boys had the weekend off last week in the Nascar Sprint Cup Series, some of them took the weekend off and others found different things to do.
Kasey Kahne ran a race in Pennsylvania on Friday night in his sprint car at Williams Cove Speedway. World of Outlaw driver Craig Dollansky went to pass Kasey on the inside coming out of turn four when their cars touched on the backstretch sending the 49 machine of Kahne through the air end-over-end, over a guard rail and ultimately came to a rest about 30 feet from the track. It was a pretty scary wreck. Kahne however emerged unharmed.
Driver Jeff Gordon boarded a plane right after the Lenox Tools 301 in Louden NH, and headed straight for the Congo to help out in a refugee camp for a couple of days, as part of the Clinton Global Initiative that he is part of.
This week the Nascar circuit is off to Indianapolis Motor Speedway where driver Jeff Gordon won the inaugural race back in 1994, passing Ernie Irvan who had the car to beat but ended up cutting down a tire handing the win to Gordon.
If you’re looking for a driver to pick for your fantasy league for this weeks Brickyard 400, Jeff Gordon has 4 wins at Indy, while teammate Jimmie Johnson has 3. However Tony Stewart has 2 wins at indy, he came in second at Louden two weeks ago and typically starts to pour it on at this point in the season.
Another guy to keep and eye on is Clint Boywer. He also knows how to get around Indianapolis Motor Speedway very well and could be a factor during Sunday’s Brickyard 400.