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

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Will the Sports Car disappear?

Will the sports car disappear? Or will the term or the definition of “performance” simply evolve? With environmentalists, active politicians, and concerned manufacturers moving for changes, it may seem like doom-and-gloom for the high-performance, gasoline-burning sports car. Of course there is an environmental and air-quality impact of burning fossil fuels; no doubt about that. However, with changes on the horizon for transportation and the fuel for that transportation, will the feeling of sporty handling, raw power, and all of the bells-and-whistles of a sporty car still be there?

BMW, Tesla, McLaren, Porscche, Ferrari, Fisker, and others are making either hybrid or fully-electric vehicles in their range and claim sportiness on par with, if not excelling, their gasoline counterparts. Plus, these vehicles add excellent mpg, massive amounts of torque and power, and other things to the list that some cars with combustion engines don’t offer. Will the idea of “sportiness” or “fun” change as transportation changes? I don’t mean to bring doom-and-gloom to your Saturday mornings, but I am optimistic and say that the sports car will exist and thrive in the years to come. The engineering involved in making sports cars will not just suddenly disappear; engineers and designers will adapt and continue to produce “sportiness” with the changes being made.

What do you think? Do you think sports cars will end with the demise of the combustion engine? Please comment below! Also, don’t forget to subscribe for updates to the blog as well as to the Twitter account @SpiritedDrive

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB

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