Friday, November 30, 2012

Mazda Burnishes New Mazda6 Clean-Diesel Reputation

Mazda announces its participation in the 2013 Grand Am racing series in front of the media crowd gathered at the LA Auto Show during Press Days. Image Credit:Edmund Jenks (2012)

Mazda Burnishes New Mazda6 Clean-Diesel Reputation

Mazda North American Operations, in a move to further enhance its reputation as a company that builds cars that are fun to drive, announced that the new, redesigned Mazda6, Mazda's flagship mid-sized car, will be entered into the Grand Am series running on Mazda's SKYACTIV technology clean-diesel.

The 2014 Mazda6 will make its motorsports debut at the Rolex 24 endurance race on January 26-27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Mazda6 racecar will be powered by a Mazda SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel engine (video) and is being developed to compete in the new GRAND-AM GX class.

This announced entrant marks the first time a diesel-powered vehicle of any type will have ever raced at the Rolex 24. Mazda will be seeking their 24th class win in the American endurance classic, having most recently won in 2008 and 2010.

John Doonan, Motorsports Director, Mazda North American Operations noted that:

“We have been eager to announce this car for months, but had to wait until the production car was revealed. The SpeedSource engineering team, working with the Mazda engineers, have been flat out for months on engine development. We’re happy to report that the engine is meeting the performance targets for both power and endurance. That means 400+ hp for over 50 hours, with an engine that includes a very long list of production Mazda parts. This is not a pure race engine; it is a production block SKYACTIV-D. We’re excited about having our newest engine powering our newest car.”

A few of the Mazda Young Guns 2013 - Kenton Koch, Elliott Skeer, Gustavo Menezes, Joey Jordan, at LA Auto Show. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

The Mazda6 was one of the first models declared eligible for the GX class, along with Lotus Evora GX and Porsche Cayman. The class will help nurture emerging technologies such as alternative fuels.

When one first sees the redesigned Mazda6, one is struck at the overall upgrade to the styling, primarily with the front end grille and rear tail light configuration. The front impresses the eye with a look similar to a blending of a Mercedes and a Volvo (not bad styling company), with the rear leaving one with the feel of a high-end Lexus without the ridging jut of the tail-light ... the Mazda6 being smoothed and rounded, say sophisticated.

Strongly influenced by the TAKERI Concept, the Mazda6 makes no excuses for its style, safety and spunk – qualities usually absent in a mid-size sedan. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012) 

The GX racing version of the Mazda6 is being developed by SpeedSource and Mazda engineers. The challenge expects to have two factory entries ready to compete at Daytona.

GX will join the Daytona Prototype and GT classes in events sanctioned by Grand-Am Road Racing in 2013, the last year before Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series merge in a single organization that has yet to be named.

Models eligible for GX besides the Mazda6, Evora and Cayman include the Audi TT, BMW 1 Series, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus sedan, Hyundai Genesis, Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, Nissan 370Z or Altima, and Volkswagen Eos.

The KODO "Soul of Motion" design language commands and creates every facet of the vehicle's handsome sheet metal, from its alluringly swept elongated hood and cab-forward proportions to the chiseled steel shaping its frame, the Mazda6 suggests power and elegance before the gas pedal is even floored to go. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

In making its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the highly-anticipated mid-size sedan will go on sale in January 2013 and be equipped first with a SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine.  The SKYACTIV-D-equipped version will follow suit during the second half of the year, making Mazda the first Asian manufacturer to offer a modern-technology clean-diesel engine in a non-commercial vehicle. The 2014 Mazda6 also will be the first production vehicle to feature Mazda's capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system called i-ELOOP.

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as Mazda Burnishes New Mazda6 Clean-Diesel Reputation on Technorati **

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ford To Display Tanner Foust Signature Focus At LA Auto Show

The new TF logo-ed very high-powered Foust signature Ford Focus at the Irwindale Event Center (SEMA Video HERE). Image Credit: Doug Stokes (2012)

Ford To Display Tanner Foust Signature Focus At LA Auto Show

Multi-discipline race driver, movie stuntman, TV star, and now car designer, Tanner Foust, visited the Irwindale Event Center on Sunday to "break in" a (very) special, limited-edition Focus that not only looked like something Foust would be driving on the streets, but that had his name and his distinctive TF logo emblazoned all over it.

Close up of the "TF" logo-ed racing stripe on the new signature Ford Focus. Image Credit: Doug Stokes (2012)

The car was just "off the boat"(actually it had come over to LA by truck) from an award-winning turn as one of the stars of the recent SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The four door hatchback had barely 50 miles on the clock, and, although Foust had been behind the wheel for a whole bunch of publicity shots at SEMA ... He had not yet driven the sexy-bad prototype.

That's where an off-day on the vast, empty East parking lot at IEC came in handy. At 'Vegas the car was never even fired up, or let alone driven, so there was some interest in breaking it in and getting a bit of actual seat time before it was to be on display at the LA Auto Show scheduled to open to the press on Wednesday, the 28th.

As one might expect, the car ran flawlessly. There were no formal specs officially available at the IEC shakedown runs.  But, we can indicate that this special Foust-signature model was "loaded" with cool features, and that the horsepower rating for this very special edition turbo-charged 6-speed Focus ST model was (and we quote:) "Oh ... somewhere around 300."

Close up of the "TF" logo-ed rocker panel racing stripe on the side of the new signature Ford Focus. Image Credit: Doug Stokes (2012)

Foust's willing co-conspirator in the custom body, trick semi-gloss silvery paint, and cool interior work was none other than Mike Spagnola, chief instigator and grand major-domo of Street Scene Equipment the well-known southern California custom body parts manufacturer. The basic look here is best explained as "stylistically belligerent". Subtlety is sure not the strong suite here. They WILL see you coming in this one (and a millisecond later they'll see you going).

All of the (by now) frothing at the bit Focus fans will have to wait for the magazine articles and web reviews to get all of the specs as well as to find out the information on where to buy one of these way cool little Ford supercars designed (and now test-driven at Irwindale) by Foust, who admitted to being much more familiar with the race track than the parking lot, having tested many cars for TV and raced successfully there numerous times in pro Drifting and Rallycross events there over the past years.

See the Tanner Foust signature Ford Focus on display at the LA Auto Show which opens on November 30th, 2012 and runs through December 9th, 2012.
(ht: Irwindale Event Center)

... notes from The EDJE 

** Article first published as Ford To Display Tanner Foust Signature Focus At LA Auto Show on Technorati **

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph Animated Feature Channels Ed Wynn

Wreck-It Ralph and cast pose in their fantasy life travel congregation area that mimics New York's Grand Central Train Station - Game Central Station. Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Wreck-It Ralph Animated Feature Channels Ed Wynn

The recently released animated feature length movie from Disney Studios, Wreck-It Ralph,  is a really fun and high concept movie that can be seen with, or without kids (not good fare for kiddos under the age of 9).

The antagonist character King Candy, who is voiced by Alan Tudyk, does a pretty good job at channeling/capturing some of the voice expressions and sounds of a very famous character and comedic actor ... Ed Wynn.

Ed Wynn (L) and King Candy (R) side-by-side. Notice the bow tie, the stripes in the cloth adornments, the zest of hair, the fun of finger positioning, smile, and smallish "hat" each character image holds. One can not separate the influence of the voice-over actor from the animated character, and we are all the richer for it. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks - combination between IMDb (Ed Wynn in "The Perfect Fool," 1959 - ) and Walt Disney Studios (2012)

Modern Hollywood does not have many memorable iconic actors that embody the likes held by Ed Wynn ... check out Jerry Lewis' Cinderfella someday.

 It is reported in a Disney wiki that they had the animators use Mad Hatter from the 1951 animated film, Alice in Wonderland but had very little mention that it was the voice of Ed Wynn that actually brought the character of Mad Hatter to life.

On the voice-over and the visage of the animated character, the producers have done a good job at capturing some of what Ed Wynn brought to the big screen (even though Ed Wynn really never had a dark side).

King Candy, formerly known as Turbo, is the main antagonist of the film Wreck-It Ralph. He was the ruler of the kingdom in which the game Sugar Rush takes place. He is voiced by Alan Tudyk. King Candy is incredibly eccentric and flamboyant. Throughout most of the film, he portrays himself as a bubbly, yet somewhat strict, ruler. As Turbo, he was said to have loved the spotlight, but the moment that was all taken away, the racer became demented, and he was determined to remain beloved, even if it meant ruining another game. Caption & Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios

This excerpted and edited from Wreck-It Ralph IMDb Storyline -

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Rated PG - 101 min - Animation | Comedy | Family - 2 November 2012 (USA)

Wreck-It Ralph (voice of Reilly) longs to be as beloved as his game's perfect Good Guy, Fix-It Felix (voice of McBrayer).

Problem is, nobody loves a Bad Guy. But they do love heroes... so when a modern, first-person shooter game arrives featuring tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Lynch), Ralph sees it as his ticket to heroism and happiness.

He sneaks into the game with a simple plan -- win a medal -- but soon wrecks everything, and accidentally unleashes a deadly enemy that threatens every game in the arcade.

Ralph's only hope? Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Silverman), a young troublemaking "glitch" from a candy-coated cart racing game - Sugar Rush - who might just be the one to teach Ralph what it means to be a Good Guy.

But will he realize he is good enough to become a hero before it's "Game Over" for the entire arcade?
[Reference Here]

As far as the central character, Ralph, some of us have all had times that we were cast in a place as Ralph and wish we could be something different.

Key line delivered by Wreck-It Ralph while visiting a 12 step style meeting: I'm bad, and that's good. I will never be good, and that's not bad. There's no one I'd rather be then me.

Vanellope von Schweetz seated in her favorite place to be ... in a vehicle racing in Sugar Rush. Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Also, the movie, while pretty ingenious and original, has moments where one thinks it borrows some of the programming used in another successful Walt Disney animated feature, Cars. A secondary character, Vanellope von Schweetz - voiced by Sara Silverman, found in another video game, Sugar Rush, loves to race cars in one of the central activities of the game world she occupies - Candy Land. One sequence in the picture features Vanellope racing around a track built by Ralph with Rihanna's "Shut Up And Drive" playing in the background, music video style.

It would be easy to envision Disney Orlando creating a section of fantasy world called Candy Land and install the same kind of vehicle racing ride Disneyland's California Adventure Park has with Radiator Springs and Cars.

RATING: 8.5 out of 10

** Article first published as Wreck-It Ralph Animated Feature Channels Ed Wynn on Technorati **

Monday, November 19, 2012

RIAM Joins New Era Circuit Of The Americas F1 Viewing Faithful

Riverside International Automotive Museum hosted an opportunity to hear the thoughts and experiences of Tony Settember (center) and Don Nichols (right) as interviewed by RIAM Public Relations director, Thomas Stahler (Left). Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

RIAM Joins New Era Circuit Of The Americas F1 Viewing Faithful

This last weekend, the United States saw the return of Formula One international open wheel racing to the series' world hopping schedule. The race held at the new purpose built Circuit of the Americas (COTA), 3.427-mile (5.515 km) motor racing circuit south of Austin, Texas, marked the return of F1 racing to the United States after a four-season hiatus.

Recognizing the pent-up demand for viewing and sharing time with like-minded individuals of this inaugural event, the Riverside International Automotive Museum (RIAM) in Riverside, California ... located not too far from the site of the famed Riverside International Raceway purpose built road circuit and was set up, in part, to archive and honor the history of this great track ... opened its doors and hosted a viewing party.

During the broadcast of the COTA USGP from Austin, Texas, SPEED Channel's Bob Varsha mentioned that there were many viewing parties being held throughout the United States and that one of note was the gathering being hosted by the Riverside International Automotive Museum which featured Tony Settember and Don Nichols and had on view many great historic open wheel racing cars created from the Dan Gurney Eagle operation. Varsha's YouTube mention HERE.

On the podium at the Circuit of the Americas, four past champions celebrate the running of the first Formula One race held in the United States in four years - pictured from left to right: Sebastian Vettel, Mario Andretti, Lewis Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks via projection TV from SPEED Channel (2012)

This excerpted and edited from the Bleacher Report -

Formula One: Hamilton Wins USGP, but Circuit of the Americas Is the Real Star
By Craig Christopher (Featured Columnist) on November 19, 2012

Formula One racing has made a triumphant return to the United States after a four-season hiatus, only to find that some things just haven’t changed.

Lewis Hamilton was the last F1 driver to stand atop the podium at a U.S. Grand Prix when he claimed victory at the final Indianapolis race in 2007.He stood atop the podium again in Austin as he held Sebastian Vettel at bay to claim a hard-fought race win.

While the race winner may not have changed, everything else has.

The fans were treated to a great race, with lots of overtaking, some outstanding wheel-to-wheel action, breathtaking pitstops and Ferrari even delivered a little bit of the intrigue and shenanigans that F1 is famous for.

And it all happened on a track deep in the heart of Texas.
With F1 finding difficulty securing a permanent home since the 20-year tenure at Watkins Glenn, all hope turned to the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas.

It didn’t disappoint.

The circuit is a custom F1 track, designed—as are nearly all new tracks—by German racetrack architect Hermann Tilke. At first glance, it has all of the hallmarks of every other Tilke track—the big runoff areas, the flowing combination of corners, long straights followed by a hairpin—but it worked.
It was a race that F1 had to get right.

With the 2005 Indianapolis debacle still lingering in the American fans' memory and with no American teams and no American drivers, the product had to deliver on its own terms. It had to bury the perception that F1 is boring and lacking in excitement.

Any lingering doubts were put to rest, despite the dominance of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, with action from one end of the field to the other.

Hamilton took the most of a momentary distraction for Vettel, as he got tangled behind a back-marker, making the pivotal pass that Vettel was unable to recover from.

While Hamilton claimed the victory, it was the Circuit of the Americas that was the superstar of the weekend, aided and abetted by a massive crowd of 117,429 fans (via

The drivers loved it [all three - Hamilton, Vittle, and Alonzo respectively], and probably would have said so without prompting, even if Mario Andretti didn’t pleadingly fish for praise in yet another pointless podium interview by an ex-driver [and champion].

Hamilton told

There are a couple of Grands Prix that are somehow out on their own: there’s Monaco, Silverstone, Montreal, Spa and Monza. Now you can this circuit to that list - it’s already one of the best racetracks in the world, maybe even right up there in the top three.

Then again, he won the race—he would say that.

[Reference Here]

The museum moved many of its 200 mph cars it has on display, set up a 9'X 12'projection screen and tables on the floor, prepared an Italian salad and sandwich lunch, invited a car constructor and some drivers of F1 and sport car racing note for post race interviews and schmoozing ... thus turning the museum into a social rumpus-room of F1 joy.

On hand were F1 winning chassis constructor Don Nichols, who created the Shadow cars that raced in F1 - and would spawn the Arrows F1 Team, Formula 5000, and Can-Am in the 1970's and 1980's (Alan Jones recorded his first win at the Austrian Grand Prix, a result which also provided a welcome boost to the lesser-funded teams as it was Shadow's first victory), Shadow Cars team crewman Gene Lentz, F1 driver Tony Settember (1962-1963), with legendary road racers John Morton and Davey Jordan.

Discover how this "five stripe" helmet adornment came about through the stories related by Don Nichols and the Shadow Cars effort to become a part of F1 history - Listen to Audio File linked below. Image Credit:  "F1 Biography: Still in the shadows"

Interviewed in the post race festivities by RIAM PR Director, Thomas Stahler were Tony Settember and Don Nichols with a presentation to RIAM by Gene Lentz a donation of memorabilia from Shadow Cars to museum President, Doug Magnon. AUDIO FILE HERE (43 min.)

There's a saying in Texas. "I wasn't born here, but I got here as fast as I could." This is the first proper U.S. race since Watkins Glen and, at last, COTA represents a worthy home for the USGP event.

That could also be said of this Southern California RIAM viewing party event. Here's hoping the COTA F1 USGP viewing party becomes an annual Southern California tradition. A Grand Prix time was had by all.

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as RIAM Joins New Era Circuit Of The Americas F1 Viewing Faithful on Technorati **