From Race-Car to Your Car – What is the Connection?

For the past several days, I have been entertaining myself with various questions related to the automotive world. Usually these questions lead to nothing more than my tediously drooling over certain vehicles on the internet that I will never have the pleasure of owning, let along drive. But, along my rapid questioning covering a certain vehicle segment, I decided to gather some information from others as to their thoughts. Besides, more input from other points of view can really add depth and clarity to a discussion, even if that discussion started off as a mere wonder.

As I began discussing sport and performance in today’s market with a friend of mine yesterday and today, the discussion lead to the racetrack. What is the relationship between the track and the road? What is the relationship between those highly-tuned, screaming race machines and our conventional road-car? These were the questions that lead to other discussions as to motor-sport history, motor-sport race types, etc…

Essentially, as I firmly believe, the new technology used and developed for the track eventually trickles down into the cars we drive everyday. At least that is what I believe should be the aim of those companies that take part in racing. Examples that came to mind immediately were the new Audi autos, the Corvette, a Porsche here and there, the BMW M-Cars, and the new Mercedes-Benz models. While there are many, many other vehicles and brands that take part in racing, these handful are some of the most lusted-for vehicles on the planet at the moment. Audi has dominated Le Mans basically since the year 2000, the Corvette seems unstoppable in Grand-AM and ALMS (American Le Mans Series), Porsche used to own Le Mans and still participates in several Cup-Car, Le Mans-style series, and other championships with a lot of success, BMW basically stomps everyone in DTM racing and has the touring-car thing down to a “t” since they basically invented it, and Mercedes-Benz AMG has absolutely obliterated the competition this year in Formula 1. How do those cars we see on Sunday sell cars on Monday? Is there even a connection? Which race series provides a better test-bed for road-car production?

As my friend and I pondered and discussed these questions, we realized that there are many companies that make fantastic cars that are not bred on the track. But in all honesty, the breeding and testing on the track helps the production models in some area. A great performer on the road does not necessarily have to be conceived on the track with tons of engineers, but every car bred on the track is a great performer. Basically its one of those situations similar to “that every Bourbon is a Whiskey, but not every Whiskey is a Bourbon” kind of things.

Le Mans-style racing is all about endurance, fuel management, durability; F1 is all about speed, grip, tire testing, engine building, etc…; and DTM is all about the “rub” while trying to out-maneuver your opponent. These are just 3 of the most popular types of racing today (sorry NASCAR, but snooze for me), but they each have some sort of development that has trickled down to their production models if they so have them.

What do you think? Do you agree with the concluded assessment? I would like to hear from you! Thanks for reading and enjoy!

 

– JRB, Editor-in-Chief of The Spirited Drive

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Car Culture in Small-Town America – Fulton, KY Banana Festival 2014

So the past two months have been festival season here in Northwest Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Every small town seems to have a festival of some sort whether it honors the soybean, the banana, or a lot of corn. Essentially, when it comes to festivals in the rural area that I grew up, their namesakes stem from a harvest produce or some tradition. Along with a vast array of festivals that are named after many different types of vegetables, festive-events bring about certain things: smoked foods that smell awesome, contests, parades, carnival rides, etc… But what I am most interested in when it comes to these shin-digs are the car shows. And it just so happens that my home-town has a fairly good car show every year.

Row of Corvettes

Row of Corvettes

Now, growing up in a rural area, most kids my age that were into automobiles glorified and praised all things American whether it is the corvette, an old hot-rod in granddad’s barn, or pop’s 1950s pickup. I enjoy seeing these brutes as well as many owners have lavished them with tensile and love, and that, whether you are a fan of American cars, classic hot-rods, or imports, is something that can be appreciated. The love and passion that these car owners have towards their pride-and-joy is overwhelming and fantastic. While I prefer other vehicles rather than classic hot-rods or American vehicles as a matter of personal taste, I am first and foremost a car person, so I can appreciate the Americana that comes out at these local festivals. Excellent and noteworthy cars involve engineering, thoughtful and purposefully-built ideas, and passion to become a reality. That is the common thread that enables someone who is a car person (like myself) to relate to other car folks who worship old GMs, Fords, and many others, and the reason why I can happily spend my afternoon browsing some great American automobilia and appreciate what I see and the people I converse with. I get to see classic engineering, old friends, people who are really into their American beauties, and observe the fact that a car-culture is alive and well in small-town America. Being a proud American, it makes me even more proud that classic American automobiles are still popular today.

 

– JRB, Editor-in-Chief of The Spirited Drive