What is the purpose of Automotive Sports?

NASCAR. Formula-1. World Rally Championship. Drifting. Endurance Racing. There are numerous types of automotive sports and racing that exist in the world. Sometimes I wonder though: why? What is the purpose of such sports? There is the obvious reason of these events being entertaining to some. And while seeing Lewis Hamilton lap someone in Formula-1 can be exhilarating, not all of us are Jeremy Clarkson and cry “Oh Britannia!” every five minutes. Of course, Formula-1 is a great sport with a great history. Don’t get me wrong; it is a lovely thing to behold. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing the top-tech duking it out lap after lap in a flurry of speed? Formula-1 also has the benefit of testing technology that would trickle down into production vehicles; thus, it also serves the purpose of helping the car world.

And NASCAR – why? If I wanted to see the shell of an Impala with sticker-headlights go 220 mph, I would invest in a catapult and launch Fischer-Price toy cars toward the sun. It has to be the least entertaining form of automotive sport in existence; for me, at least. The technology in these NASCAR cars also seems to come from the time when people still transported goods via Ox. In other words, it doesn’t remain a really relevant test-bed for automotive technology. Somehow, though, it remains one of the most popular sports here in the States. Drifting also seems useless as a test-bed for technology in cars, but at least it has a higher entertainment factors than watching Fisher-Price-like cars going in a giant circle.

There can be arguments made for both entertainment and technology-testing for each major form of automotive sport. And while entertainment is great, seeing, hearing, and reading about the new wave of the automotive future can be the most entertaining aspect of it all. While this may seem like a noble to be involved in automotive sports, I am also of the mind that seeing the Porsche 919 LMP1 car destroy a lap at Le Mans or reruns of the Audi Quattro take on a World Rally Stage is  just flipping awesome.

What is your favorite automotive sport and why? Let me know!

 

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB

Advertisements

Save the Environment: Buy a used car?

So, you are an environmental warrior? Great. The environment does need some help, especially today. Perhaps you aren’t, and that is your business. However, for those who do care about the environment, yet love cars, maybe purchasing a used or classic vehicle is an easy way to help out as well as help out your wallet. Why? Because you will not be purchasing something that is, at present, creating a massive carbon foot-print to manufacture and create. The used and/or classic car has already made its mark on the environment in some way, and there is no taking that back. Sure, the older cars may not have the fancy bells and whistles. And it may get around 17 miles to the gallon. But, you will not be contributing to any more environmental impact at the present from manufacturing which is where a lot of the issues come from. This is just an idea, and in no way has it been proven. But, it is something to think about. So go ahead, buy that awesome 1990s Porsche or Ford Bronco. You will not only be rolling in style and driving a car that puts a giant grin on your face, but you may be helping out the environment today to enjoy it tomorrow.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

 

Drive Spiritedly.

 

-JRB

Patina: A good thing?

Is patina a good thing? Or does that answer depend on what type of car has the patina? Use and signs of wear can actually look good on some cars, in my opinion. However, some cars don’t wear patina too well. Example A: Pagani Zonda. While hearing one tear down a road at full blast is amazing, just looking at one in a showroom also becomes a special event.

What about a car that looks good with wear? Example B: Bugatti Type-35. This is also an extremely expensive car, but it looks good with some wear on its fringes. So, what separates the two? This leads to an interesting thought: is one more of a piece of art and the other a tool? And: can a car be art? Undoubtedly, if you are reading this blog, you more than likely think that cars can be considered art. But can something that can be art still be art after the beating of years on twisty roads and use? I think so; however, the Type-35 does have the honor of being a racing vehicle while the Zonda remains something for consumption. Both, however, remain coveted. Perhaps the design and purpose of the car becomes, then, a determinant on whether or not it a) is art and b) if it looks good with patina.

What do you think? I would like to know! Commence the commenting!

 

Drive Spiritedly.

 

-JRB

The Natchez Trace Parkway – Best Driving Road in the States?

The Natchez Trace Parkway, stretching from the outskirts of Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS, has to be one of the best, if not the best, driving road in the United States. It is well paved, provides excellent curves, and gorgeous scenery of the South’s countryside. While there are several cyclists on the road typically given the time of year as well as an underwhelming speed limit, it remains one of the best driving roads I have ever driven. And while being able to go a little bit faster wouldn’t hurt, driving near the speed limit provides you with the opportunity to savor the experience and soak up the road in all its wonder. It is a wonderful place to drive spiritedly, and we cannot ask for more from a road. What do you think is the best driving road in the United States? Please comment!

Drive Spiritedly.

 

-JRB

Alfa Romeo’s Resurgence

Alfa Romeo. If you have watched any Top Gear, Fifth Gear, /Drive, or read any magazine within the past 60 years, the Italian brand stands forefront as the true car-lover’s machine. Everything written on Alfa Romeos since the 60s tells that despite its flaws and mechanical/electrical issues, owning an Alfa is a special experience as it becomes the car you love and adore the most. It is a car company with passion, flair, pedigree and heritage, and lots of soul. If you noticed, Super Bowl XLI’s sponsorship came from Alfa. I found this quite impressive considering the company has only recently resurfaced here in the United States a decades-long hiatus. Fiat, it seems, must be pouring tons of money into the brand not just with advertisement dollars but with a real product to compete in what is probably the toughest segment of the car industry: the Giulia and Giulia Quadrifoglio. With the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, and numerous other entries from companies such as Cadillac, Jaguar, and Infiniti, the market space is super tight and competitive.

If you do a quick Google or YouTube search for the Giulia, you will see it has received massive applause – they say this is Alfa Romeo’s return to its former glory. They say this car trumps the big German three. The Giulia remains Alfa’s third entry since returning to the States, and it needed to get it right to make a permanent market space for themselves in the automotive world here but also in that particular segment of sedans. While I have not had a chance to test one, I will say this: it is beautiful (just like 99% of the Alfa Romeos out there). It ticks the right buttons: beauty, Italian, and unique. What do you think of Alfa Romeo’s resurgence in the States? Is it a sign of a new and returned juggernaut in the automotive world? What of Fiat’s leadership and goals with the company? Please comment below!

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB

Car Technology – What do you want to see?

Technology in the automobile has been amazing the past few years. From Apple and Android creating easy-to-use, familiar interfaces that integrate from your mobile device to steering-in-lane controls that guide your car within the lines on a road, the automobile is getting smarter to keep up with consumer technology and to keep us safer. Some cars even have mobile device wireless charging decks built into the vehicle’s center console! While nothing sounds better than charging your phone while also streaming music via Bluetooth to your speakers while also streaming your favorite navigation app on a long tip, where else do we need to go in regard to car technology? Is car tech just a mirror of consumer technology as in the case of smartphones and their various applications?

Some may say that autonomously driving vehicle is the next step in car technology, and that may be true. However, with consistent tragic wrecks taking place with self-driving technology, is this really the future? And what about engine technology? We don’t know what the future has in store, but I think we can all agree that maintaining the excitement of the automobile needs to remain a key factor in whatever technology emerges.

What are your thoughts? Please comment!

 

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB

2017 Hyundai Sonata – Review and Thoughts

I recently had the opportunity to use a 2017 Hyundai Sonata in SE trim on a trip for work from a rental company. And, I was surprised! Normally, when you walk into a rental office, you hope you get a new model of some sort, but you usually end up with a fairly worn hatchback that smells like a wet dog or something. My journey was a grand total of 9-10 hours, so I thought I would share my thoughts on my experience in the car.

The driver’s seat is comfortable. It had ample lumbar support, and it could adjust to numerous configurations. While the SE trim did not come with many of the bells and whistles that would include plush leather, I was surprised at the comfort from the normal seat. It had plenty of leg, hip, shoulder, and elbow room. And visibility from the seating positions was great.

And speaking of the cabin, Bluetooth and on-board computer and audio controls all were found on the steering wheel which came in handy. It also had iPod/iPhone connectivity via USB and Auxiliary inputs which was great for such a long journey. The Air-con and heat worked well, the audio system was sufficient, and it even had ECO, Sport, and Normal diving modes. However, the only noticeable differences while switching between the modes were the mpg figures and the throttle responsiveness.

The car also drove fairly well! It was the first time I had truly driven a Hyundai product, and it felt it had enough power when it was required. The ECO mode’s throttle response felt sluggish, however. So much so that when pressing the accelerator, it felt as if my foot was being pushed into smashed potatoes, but it did the job. There wasn’t a ton of feed back through the steering wheel, but you knew where the car was on the road, enough to drive it confidently. However, I did notice a droning noise coming from the rear of the vehicle at cruising speeds – this seemed to only appear while in ECO mode. This may tire passengers on a long trip. And the turning-signal noise became annoying fairly quickly, but that is just being picky.

Overall, the Hyundai Sonata SE was a fine car for the trip. It was comfortable, averaged around 34 mpg on the highway, had enough tech to satisfy a long-trip, and it felt safe. While the more premium trims  offer more, the platform itself seemed great. Coupled with an amazing warranty from the factory, the Sonata is an excellent car for commuting and family trips.

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB