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

The Spirited Drive’s Day at a Local Car Show and Cruise-In

The Spirited Drive’s J. Potts, D. Fowler, and J. Hamlin had the opportunity to visit and cover the Spot Light Car Show in Wingo, KY. While there, they were invited to the Top Gun Cruise-In later that evening in nearby Mayfield, KY. They mingled with the car owners, made some new friends, and snapped some awesome photos.  Here is their story of the day’s events:

We arrived to the car show in Wingo, a small town in Graves County, Kentucky. A small crowd gathered at the event for not only the cars, but also the karaoke. It was a small show, but right off we could tell the owners were a close-knit community of people passionate about cars. Each owner had a special story about his or her vehicle, from the time it took to restore the vehicle to how he or she had owned something similar in the past. This show featured cars from all eras, from a 1936 Chevrolet to a 2000’s era Mustang. There were very few moments during this event that one of the three of us weren’t completely in awe of something.

At the car show, we were invited to a cruise-in which was sponsored by Top Gun, a local car show series in nearby Mayfield, Kentucky. We were stunned to be invited to an event we didn’t even know existed and to be so fully welcomed into the community so quickly. As the car show wound down, we packed up and made the quick trip to Mayfield. A little while after we arrived, the cars began to arrive in a continuous, steady stream. There was everything from a Model A Ford to a brand new Corvette. We took the opportunity to befriend even more car owners and hear more interesting stories of car passion and restoration.

This outing was a lot of fun, and I think we all left full of wonder and plans to get to work on some sort of restoration of our own. We’re grateful to the Graves County community and to Top Gun for putting these events together and for being so gracious to us while we were there. I think we’re all excited to come out next time and see what else Graves County has to show.

Article by J. Potts, Automotive Contributor; D. Fowler, Production Editor; J. Hamlin, Production Editor

Photographs by J. Potts, Automotive Contributor and D. Fowler, Production Editor

Photographs edited by J. Hamlin, Production Editor

Edited by JRB, Editor-in-Chief of The Spirited Drive

Opinion – “What makes the best automobile for the summer?”

Here in the heartland of the South, as well as the rest of the northern hemisphere, the first day of summer was a few days ago. This has led to an interesting question: “If you could have any type of vehicle to drive until the first day of autumn, what would it be?” I know each reader will have his or her own idea of what this ideal vehicle would be, but I hope I can create a small list that we can all agree would make for fantastic summer vehicles. One assumption I must make is that all vehicles referenced are exactly as they were when they rolled off the assembly line.

Before I begin the details of this list, I would like to make a list of features I would or would not want on any vehicle in my list. The first item in the list of features is leather seats. Some may enjoy leather, but as someone who has had leather in the summer, I know how incredibly unpleasant it is to sit on when has been heated to 120ᐤF or above. For a summer only vehicle, I would choose cloth seats. The next item is air conditioning, for obvious reasons. I may want to enjoy summer, but sometimes I also just want to be cool. The final item is a sound system in good working order. When I drive, I need to listen to the radio. I prefer to have one that can be heard if I am driving with the windows down. Some may say most of the items in this list are standard features, but I include them because some of the vehicles I reference are not new, and may or may not have these features.

The first vehicle type I would like to mention is the Jeep Wrangler. I have considered this vehicle for two reasons. First of all, I categorize it  as a vehicle type because very few vehicles can be taken apart in the way a Wrangler can. With an older model Wrangler, the top, doors, and windshield can be taken down in about a half hour. Note I do not endorse driving without a windshield, but I included it because it is an option. Second of all, the Wrangler is the posterboy of the great outdoors. Jeep markets the Wrangler as a the great tamer of the wilderness, and the Wrangler has proven itself as a capable offroad vehicle. The Wrangler makes a great summer vehicle because a driver can easily remove the top. This allows the driver to be engulfed in the summer season. All Wranglers come with four seats, so there is ample room for friends. If you do not have an Unlimited, the cargo room can seem slightly cramped. Luckily the rear seats fold up for more space, but that presents a tradeoff between storage capacity and people capacity. The Wrangler’s offroad capabilities also allow you to navigate rough terrain to get to any certain point you wish, including a secluded beach or lake, for example.

summer drive

The next vehicle type is probably at the top of the list for most readers: the convertible sports car. Convertible sports cars come in two classes, full convertibles, and t-tops/targa tops. I personally favor t-tops, such as the Nissan 300zx had, but full convertibles, such as a Chevrolet Corvette, Mazda Miatta, or Porche 911, would also be fantastic. The convertible sports car allows one the experience the season, but differs from the Wrangler in that it also allows for ridiculous speeds and provides a symphony of noise from the exhaust. Convertible sports cars are best on twisting country roads at the height of summer. The speed provides an adrenaline boost, but is contradicted by the relaxing and scenic views of the countryside. One thing the sports car does not have is very large capacity for people or storage. They are typically two seaters, and most storage space is occupied with the vehicle top. This vehicle type is best for those with few friends, or a very special one.

The final vehicle type I would like to mention if the pseudo-SUV/hatchback.  This is a very large type of vehicle, so some examples I would like to give are the Honda Element and the Subaru Crosstrek. This type of vehicle has seating for 4+, and usually a good amount of storage. These vehicles also more often than not come with a sunroof, so the passengers are more insulated from the environment. This insulations can be a good thing, if driving in an area prone to frequent changes in the weather. This vehicle type is also usually pretty fun to drive. It may not be able to attain the speeds of the sports car, but it can still be driven aggressively, so as to get some of the adrenaline boost mentioned before. They are spunky, but without being the monsters that the sports cars are. This vehicle is best suited for long drives to camping grounds, concerts, etc. With these vehicles, drivers can bring friends on longer trips, thanks to the higher storage and people capacity.

These are three vehicle types I think are best for the summer months. They all provide the passengers with the ability to experience the summer in all its glory, though each has its strengths and weaknesses. I know everyone may not agree with this list, but I hope they can see how I came to the conclusions I did.

Please feel free to leave your own list in the comments.

– J. Potts, Autmotive Contributor

Edited by JRB, Editor-in-Chief