Friday, April 12, 2019

BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix At Long Beach With Five-Time Class Winner Oliver Gavin

Corvette Racing's Car No. 4 Brit driver Oliver Gavin navigates Turn 2 known as The Fountain Turn. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2019)

BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix At Long Beach With Five-Time Class Winner Oliver Gavin

Oliver Gavin, a GM factory driver for Corvette Racing for 15 years and an ambassador for Chevrolet UK, he competes in Europe, the USA and Australia, while remaining a dedicated family man, fitness fanatic and marathon runner.

This interview finds Oliver the day before taking to the track in his effort to secure a sixth Class win in the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix At Long Beach. This race is the shortest race of the season at 100 minutes, having two races - one being the 24 Hours at Daytona and the other being the 12 Hours at Sebring.

Oliver discusses with Edmund Jenks, Managing Editor - Performance & Racing Tech Talk | Motorsports Journal, the kinds of racing that takes place including his favorite section of the course and how consistency plays such an important role.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: WeatherTech Sports Car Challenge, GTLM, Oliver Gavin, 5_Time Class Winner, Turn 9, Turn 10, Turn 11, AGPLB, The EDJE

Monday, April 8, 2019

Napoleon Motorsports Will Be The First Team To Give Formula DRIFT A Spark

First ever 100% electric motor powered Pro1 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship Presented by BlackVue Dash Cameras competition car. Welcome to the Napoleon Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro EL-1 as depicted on the back of the Napoleon Motorsports Turnkey Industries transporter. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2019)

Napoleon Motorsports Will Be The First Team To Give Formula DRIFT A Spark

If Joe, Lynn, & Justin Napoleon with the fabrication assistance of Robert Quezada from Houston, Texas have their wishes come true, Napoleon Motorsports will be the first team to compete in the highest levels of Formula DRIFT with 100% electric power thus adding a spark to an already electrifying visual and sound display in motorsports and motor culture.

Napoleon Motorsports has at least a three generation family pursuit and affaire in motorsports and motor culture building cars and racing all forms of motor driven vehicle competition ranging from the dragstrip to circle dirt track and most recently road/street courses with the Trans Am Series Pirelli TA2 class with driver Shane Lewis.

The latest effort, which was spawned just about six months ago, was to create a car that could compete in the Formula DRIFT series. Enter the Chevrolet Camaro EL-1 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship Presented by BlackVue Dash Cameras - Round 1: Streets Of Long Beach April 5-6, 2019 driven by 2018 Formula DRIFT Pro2 champion, Travis Reeder. This is a serious response to a very serious challenge for the Formula DRIFT championship.

Joe Napoleon, Team owner and director of Napoleon Motorsports, describes some of the fabricated features in the converted engine to battery compartment during the Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach Media Day. The weight and displacement of the batteries are fabricated to emulate the center of gravity and weight of a V-8 engine. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2019)

In what was to be their first official competition, however, the City Of Long Beach Fire Department in a joint recommendation made with the Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach Friday morning, before Formula DRIFT's first event of the 2019 season, that the Napoleon Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro EL-1 could not compete due to a little known city ordinance, until Friday, that prohibits electric and gasoline-powered cars on a track at the same time. The City Of Long Beach Fire Department also came out to say that the fire safety crew will not have the adequate time to train in case there’s an emergency with the car.

Podcast Interview with Justin Napoleon

The most confusing aspect to all of this, is in the last minute timing of this recommendation since a history of electric-powered competition is widely known, the FIA Formula E raced here successfully for two years without incident and that both City Of Long Beach Fire Department and then Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach felt comfortable with their training at that time for those events.

One might think that Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship Presented by BlackVue Dash Cameras field of competitors may have pulled a political fast one since evidence would suggest, after a look at the Formula DRIFT website, that everyone knew the Napoleon Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro EL-1 Formula DRIFT car was coming with two articles published - Napoleon Motorsports: Attacking 2019 PRO1 Formula Drift Series (December 18, 2018) & Napoleon Motorsports: New Champion Pilot for EL1 (March 12, 2019).

No one expected that the "spark" Napoleon Motorsport's Chevrolet Camaro EL-1 - nicknamed "Freedom" - would be one in the form of a political, or process controversy ... to say the least.

Pretty odd.

Official Response By Napoleon Motorsports via Facebook:

In response to a decision made by the city of Long Beach and Acura Long Beach Grand Prix that prevents the EL1 from competition; Travis reeder Will now be piloting his LS 240 for his FD Pro1 debut.

"We’ve initiated plan B and we will continue forward without fail. I appreciate all the love and support, I respect the decisions made.

This is an indication of education yet to be done... We will take our lessons learned, get ahead of the curve for approval and we look forward to fielding “Freedom” [EL1] in Orlando." - Joe Napoleon, Chief Principal, Napoleon Motorsports

With the Plan B gasoline-powered LS240, Travis Reeder ended up P14 out of a field of 32 drivers - 33 Points - 70 Points behind the Round 1 winner, Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis.

Travis Reeder stands beside his Napoleon Motorsports No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro EL-1 electric-powered Formula DRIFT car on display in downtown Long Beach. Image Credit: Napoleon Motorsports via Facebook (2019)

Justin Napoleon wrote in his email response - "Moving forward: as you’re aware we had Travis’ car as a back up car. He did an outstanding job in the competition. We will carry the back up car with us in the event the EL-1 can’t run for whatever reason. We will be in contact with the proper personnel at the next event (Orlando) ahead of time.

As for Napoleon Motorsports; this is only a minor setback and we will continue to push onward and upward as we look to be an innovative leader in EV Racing. As stated before; this is only the beginning for us. We’ve got some very creative ambitions beyond drifting that will come to fruition this year as the EL-1 proves to be a reckoning force. "

Joe Napoleon, Team owner and director of Napoleon Motorsports, demonstrate the custom fabrication rear quarter panels used on the Camaro EL-1 for give during competition. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2019)

Napoleon Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro EL-1 "Freedom" Formula DRIFT

The first questions one is confronted with are having to do with embracing new, un-traditional technology just as motorsports players have been doing since mobility solutions have been invented. Soon after WWII, folks would strap on a blower from a diesel engine to a gas-powered engine to see what improvements to drag strip speed & time race this would make.

With Electric-Powered engines, the first element one instantly understands is torque applied to the wheels with this torque being the high-level same from beginning to the end of the power band - this can not be said for gasoline-powered engines where a curve of torque is delivered - low at first, building to a sweet spot at a specific RPM, then dissipating the more RPM is applied.

Second, in normal travel mobility situations such as a transportation replacement alternative to gasoline-powered engines, the electric-power only lasts so long and then one has to invest a much longer time to re-charge the batteries than fill a tank with liquid - this is known as "Range Anxiety" - but as applied to Formula DRIFT not a problem due to the very short duration of each side-by-side competition session.

Round 1 of the 2019 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship Presented by BlackVue Dash Cameras season was to be the grand debut for this evolution in power equipment available for drifting. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2019)

This excerpted and edited from Drift Life -

Electric Drifting – The Future?
By: Jos Roder - March 22nd, 2019

With the all but confirmed introduction of an electric drift car into Formula Drift for the 2019 season, it opens the discussion around the future of drifting and the role electric vehicles may play in it.

In December 2018, Formula Drift released a statement on behalf of Napoleon Motorsport about a sixth generation 2019 Chevrolet Camaro EL-1 the team was building that was described as “a revolutionary drift car” and “the first one of its kind in Formula Drift.”

Fast forward to early 2019 and the rumours became stronger. On the February 27th Maximum Driftcast podcast, Formula Drift Technical Manager Kevin Wells spoke about regulations ahead of an electric car joining the series. The latest video from Napoleon Motorsport included flashes of electricity as part of the graphics so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put everything together.

So unless there is a CIA level deception that has led everyone down the garden path, we will see an electric drift car competing in Formula Drift in 2019 and that Drift Life readers, is a fascinating prospect.

Why Electric?

"It's inevitable!"

Electric cars didn’t fly down in the last shower and they aren’t going anywhere.  Tesla is now a household name, manufacturers are pouring millions into electric R&D, ‘ludicrous mode’ makes grown men giggle and Formula E (electric based open-wheel racing series) continues to build an audience and has growing support globally.

But electric drift car’s have already been made! Yes, companies around the world have already been experimenting with electric drift cars, like EV West and their Tesla powered E36.

The cockpit of the next evolution in Formula DRIFT competition. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2019)

To see an electric drift car in a top-level competition series however is a big step up. It was only a matter of time but the reality brings fundamental, technical and philosophical questions about the sport to the here and now. Some questions are being resolved through regulations but others can only be answered in competition and in the spectator stands.
This brings us to what many see as in theory at least, a logical step into the world of electric motors.

Electric Motor Benefits:

Amazing torque characteristics

No gears to change – should be quick off the line

Handling characteristics  –  low battery and motor placement for 50-50 weight split and lower centre of gravity.

Reliability – once early issues ironed out, in theory, there are fewer things that can go wrong with the drivetrain.

Lowering overall vehicle weight

Electric Drift Car Commercial Benefits

Momentum is building and millions are being poured into R&D. Chevrolet recently displayed the eCOPO Concept Camaro, a car designed to run 9’s on the quarter through its two electric motors that produce a combined 800hp (and all the torques) and is no doubt a ploy designed to convince Chevrolet supporters that ‘electric’ can be cool.

For Napoleon Motorsport, choosing a new Camaro as their electric vehicle choice given Chevrolet’s recent moves could be strategic or simply coincidental. Funding a race program is a huge investment so with projects like eCOPO underway, perhaps Napoleon Motorsport feels doors could open for manufacturer support. At a minimum, an electric drift car is unique, so a new range of sponsorship avenues for the team could no doubt be opened. Strategically, this aspect of the program could prove to be a smart move.

Side note: electric cars are primarily about efficiency and environmental benefits….so the irony of introducing a smoke-inducing, tyre destroying electric drift car is not lost on us.

Downsides/Challenges and Unanswered Questions

From putting down its power too well off the line, lack of noise, through to handling advantages and reliability improvements, let’s rationally analyse some of the questions and thoughts that came up in our conversations on the matter.

Q: Can a silent drift car excite anyone?
For drift judges, a philosophical debate has to take place. The ‘sound’ of the car is not judged obviously, but it will be hard not to be fooled and remain impartial to what you are seeing compared another car that may have had an identical run, except with the screaming engine to compliment the run.

For spectators, the equation is pretty simple. Can you get excited by a silent drift car that only oozes tyre squeal? That is a really hard sell. A huge component of drifting is enjoying high revving engines, turbo’s and V8s’s as they power through a course so an electric car will be eerily underwhelming.

Q: How driveable are electric engine drift cars?
According to the EV West team and JehuGarcia, the light switch on and off feeling, plus the ramp on and off characteristics of the engine was quite hard to control in current specification. Is Napoleon Motorsport there yet? We don’t know.

Q: Will electric drift cars put down the power too well from the holeshot?
A cars ability to accelerate is dependant on a variety of factors, but primarily comes down to how much grip a tyre can produce on a given surface. The crazy 0-100 (0-60) times we see by Tesla’s are with AWD systems. A RWD based system would be absolutely slower. Overall, I think this would be a negligible difference.

Q: Will electric cars have a fundamental performance/handling advantage?
Overall vehicle weight, the centre of gravity and weight distribution are all considerations. The overall weight of a vehicle governs the tyre size a car can run, so even if the car was substantially lighter than a standard Camaro (which it probably is), tyre size will be reduced to negate the advantage in this area. Centre of gravity however is certainly an area a competition drift car could have an advantage in.
The flexibility of battery placement (should it be allowed in technical regulations) can also ensure a perfect 50:50 weight distribution should that be the balance they are looking for.

Q: Will electric drift cars be perfectly reliable?
I’d suggest not initially, but with fewer components in play, that should prove to be a slight advantage in this area over the medium-term. It is worth noting a number of Formula Drift Pro cars are very reliable and most have backup parts to keep them in the game even with failures.

Q: Will electric drift cars create an arms race/fractures in the fabric of the sport?
This question only brings up more questions. If electric vehicles drift amazingly, are ultra reliable and gain momentum, will other teams be forced to spend into oblivion to keep up? Will there become a huge divide and traditionalists that mean electric cars are outlawed or become a separate series? Having electric drift cars upsetting the competition apple cart in such a severe way is probably hyperbole, but major controversy in motorsport is hardly a new concept so who knows! 

The business end of the Napoleon Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro EL-1. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2019)

The Bottom Line – We Fear Change
Electric cars are part of our collective future whether we like it or not, so we should at least give them a chance in the sport and investigate if it will be a fit for drifting in the future.

So until the electric car competes a season, I’ll be watching on with an open mind and a tonne of popcorn. My bet is it will be an anti-climatic debut, but that is nearly to be expected of any new campaign in Formula Drift Pro category with a new build, let alone an electric variant, but I’m happy to be wrong!
P.S Drift runs are so short, Range Anxiety shouldn’t be a thing!? Unless you have 5 re-runs in your Top 32 and you can’t swap out batteries?
[Reference Here]

After researching some articles reviewing the situation that placed "Freedom" on the sidelines had been published, the initial Napoleon Motorsports response was that the car was fabricated using all of the FIA Formula E safety aspects as a template and built to FIA regulations for EV race cars.

They were never made aware of this Long Beach City Ordinance, and apparently neither was the event producer, Formula DRIFT ... or should that be the other way around?

Napoleon Motorsports just wishes to compete and will bring to every venue both racing platforms - "Freedom" &  LS240 - recognizing that there may be a learning curve at each and every event venue throughout the season. 

So, we are all awaiting the first real "Freedom" run in a Pro division Formula DRIFT competition, bring the spark, and see where this technology application goes - so far, the equipment or the team hasn't allowed the Camaro EL-1 to compete ... in Long Beach, maybe it was the fear of change

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: electric drift car, Formula DRIFT, Napoleon Motorsport, Camaro EL-1, Freedom, City Of Long Beach, Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach, The EDJE

Monday, March 25, 2019

Inaugural INDYCAR Classic At COTA - Rebirth Of Motor Culture & A Boost To A Series

Harding Steinbrenner Racing No. 88 Honda driven by 18 year 11 month old Colton Herta as he drives the final laps in the lead of the Inaugural IndyCar Classic At Circuit Of The Americas. Image Credit: Stephen Lautenschlager (2019) 

Inaugural INDYCAR Classic At COTA - Rebirth Of Motor Culture & A Boost To A Series

The stage was set for a perfect storm of competition and history-making when the NTT IndyCar Series took to the Formula 1 purpose-built track, Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) near Austin, Texas, for the first time in anger this weekend of March 22-24, 2019.

In this second race of a seventeen race season, all of the teams looked to this track as a mark in the modern age, of a racing series that can prove it was on equal par at putting on a show, on this pavement, as the Formula 1 cars that it will be replacing had.

"No Track Limits" showing itself as a permanent part of the IndyCar line in Turn 19. This turn helped to create the scenario that decided the Inaugural INDYCAR Classic at COTA. Image Credit: Chris Owens via NICS (2019) 

Sure, the IndyCars are not as fast, or expensive, or as unequal in matching up to the competitive formula template, or have power steering, but IndyCars do have an incredible depth of seasoned driving talent that is adding on an even stronger crop of competitive and savy Rookie drivers, with a race direction staff that had the guts to make the call to abolish the concept of "Track Limits" which would allow competitors freedom to drive the track as they saw fit.

What happened during the INDYCAR Classic event weekend hit all of the traditional tick off points. Will Power placed a Team Penske car on the pole position after each of the Team Penske drivers in their Chevrolet powered Dallara cars showed the top pace in 3 of the 4 practice sessions. Alexander Rossi was able to break this Penske party, but another name, a Rookie name, also popped up twice at P2 in Practice and this was no surprise to anyone on the grid. Colton Herta had shown his pace at COTA during the IndyCar Spring Training in February.

In the pits, Colton Herta is all nomexed up and ready to slap on his lid. Image Credit: Stephen Lautenschlager (2019)

This excerpted and edited from Autoweek -

Nineteen-year-old Herta was the fasted driver in three of the four test sessions and finished IndyCar Spring Training with the overall fastest time at 1:46.6258 for a speed of 115.132 mph in the No. 88 Honda. That speed came in the afternoon session on February 12.

The only session Herta did not set the pace was the final session on February 13, when Alexander Rossi’s Honda was the quickest at 1:46.8536 (114.886 mph). That ended up being the second fastest combined time.

"This track just suits my driving style a lot," Herta said. "The team has been working really hard to get the car where it needs to be. Obviously, they've made really big gains in the winter time compared to last year, and we're kind of seeing that. Really stout job by the boys.
[Reference Here]

So, this was of little surprise when the three round/four session Knock-Out Qualifications had a starting order arranged through the Firestone Fast Six have 2018 INDY 500 Winner and 2014 Champion Will Power capturing his 56th NTT P1 Pole Award in the only Chevrolet-powered Dallara in the Fast Six, with P2-P6 as follows - 2016 INDY 500 Winner Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda-powered teammate and 2012 Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Harding Steinbrenner Racing's Rookie Colton Herta, Chip Ganassi Racing's Rookie Felix Rosenqvist, and CGR Teammate, Five-Time and defending 2018 Champion, New Zealander Scott Dixon.

The race went off without a hitch. Circuit Of The Americas put up a prize of $100,000 as a bonus to the driver who would be able to score the pole position AND win the 60 lap race. A nice play for all who tapped into the promotion.

Will Power looked to be well on to placing a $100,000 bonus in his pocket leading here over Alexander Rossi and eventual historic first-time winner, Colton Herta - but this is racin' and it ain't over until the Checkered Flag waves. Image Credit:Image Credit: Stephen Lautenschlager (2019) 

Will Power was driving a perfect race, pitstops and the choice of tires never caught the Team Penske driver out and he led every lap of the race. That is, until Will Power, followed by Alexander Rosssi and Scott Dixon running on the track as the only lead cars to not have taken their final pitstops for fuel and a set of Sticker Reds. Then the unthinkable happened in an area where "No Track Limits" were seriously in play in the run-off area of Turn 19 (pictured previously).

This incident had tight racing between James Hinchcliffe and Felix Rosenqvist (who was passing Hinch to remain with the leaders), where Hinch jostled on uneven pavement and touched the left-rear of Felix's blue NTT DATA Dallara, sending it spinning into the wall at pit-in - danger zone realized with a FULL COURSE YELLOW. Colton Herta inherits the lead and drove to a final win.

An honor received for making the podium in Texas is the hat ... always the hat. Image Credit: Joe Skibinski via NICS (2019)

This excerpted and edited from Racer -

MILLER: Maturity and moxie on display

When Bryan Herta was 18 years old, he was attending the Skip Barber Driving School and hoping to make a career out of driving race cars. Fast forward 30 years to Sunday afternoon at the Circuit of The Americas where Herta watched his 18-year-old son do the unthinkable: win an IndyCar race in only his third start.

“It’s amazing, hard to comprehend at this minute, but I am so proud of him,” said the former IndyCar winner who now co-owns Marco Andretti’s car. “I know he’s got potential and promise, but you just don’t expect that so quickly.”

In becoming the youngest victor in IndyCar history, Herta displayed the maturity and moxie of a 28-year-old veteran. He qualified fourth on Saturday in his Harding Steinbrenner Honda despite missing a practice period after losing an engine. He snatched third in the opening lap and held his position all afternoon until a fortuitous yellow flag put him in the catbird seat with 14 laps to go.
That left young Herta in the lead but it was hardly comfortable since Penske’s Josef Newgarden was right behind him on the restart. The 2017 IndyCar champion had three times more push-to-pass so Colton looked like a sitting duck.

But the skinny kid who looks 15 pounced like a sage of speed on the restart and pulled away to almost a four-second advantage before easing up at the checkered flag.

“I was calling Marco’s race so that kept me occupied and I didn’t know exactly what was going on with Colton. But that would have probably made me more nervous,” said the proud pop. “To hold off Josef under those circumstances was pretty impressive.”

No, for a team that wobbled into 2019 with a shaky portfolio and still has no title sponsor led by a teenager making his third start, this was beyond impressive. Mike Harding and George Michael Steinbrenner got the best of Roger Penske — comparable to the old Kansas City Athletics beating Mantle, Maris and the Bronx Bombers in the ’60s.

“Everything had to work out perfectly and we needed a little luck, but Colton was awesome,” said Steinbrenner, grandson of the late New York Yankees owner who backed Herta in Lights. “Our pit stops were good, we knew we had to stay ahead of Newgarden on all three stops and we did. It’s just surreal.”

Harding, the Indianapolis pavement contractor who in January intended to run two cars (the other for Pato O’Ward until things fell apart, with O’Ward let out of his contract), has a technical partnership with pal Michael Andretti that’s elevated his little team to rarified air.

Now he owns the fairytale story of the season, so finally finding a sponsor should be easier.
Yet the reality of what happened at COTA can’t be dismissed as a fluke or luck.

Colton, the second version of Hertamania, has been quick since slapping on a skateboard at age 4. He won in karts, Formula Fords and Indy Lights, and he possesses a calm demeanor that belies his age.

“I think the two years he spent in Europe by himself really helped his maturity,” said Bryan. “My wife and I didn’t go with him, he didn’t know anyone, so his only friends were the mechanics on his car. Hanging out with them, asking questions and being in that environment helped him immensely.”
“His ability to understand the car and read it and communicate with his engineer is amazing,” said Brian Barnhart, the Steinbrenner Harding president who worked with Al Unser Jr. back in his mechanic days. “He’s so detailed and analytical, and he’s just a kid. It blows me away.”
It was fitting that Colton put on a cowboy hat in victory lane because there just might be a new sheriff in town.

Standing under the podium and snapping photos of this memorable moment in racing history, it was easy to be happy for Bryan Herta. One of the nicest, most gracious and honest people in the IndyCar paddock — and one who was also a pretty damn good racer — Herta Sr. is not the boastful type and stayed out of the victory photos because it was Colton’s celebration.

Yet even he couldn’t resist a little bragging.

“I think he’s getting the hang of it,” Bryan said with a grin.
[Reference Here]

Wow - boost to a series? - rebirth of motor culture? - the listing of the Firestone Fast Six above says it all - not an overstatement - also, the hats, always the hats.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Colton Herta, COTA, IndyCar, motor culture, rebirth, Bryan Herta, INDYCAR Classic, Inaugural, Rookie, Youngest Driver Win, The EDJE

Friday, March 22, 2019

Live From Toronto, A New Car Marketing Platform From Isobar Canada

The first plate and image one sees to participate in this showroom called Cadillac Live. Image Credit Edmund Jenks via screen grab (2019)

Live From Toronto, A New Car Marketing Platform From Isobar Canada

Isobar Canada, part of Dentsu Aegis, has launched its first work for Cadillac - a digital platform called Cadillac Live.

The agency bills the new platform as part personal shopper and part interactive digital showroom.

Choice options upon which to explore Cadillac Live. Image Credit Edmund Jenks via screen grab (2019)

When you go to the site and start a tour you actually get a live person in a showroom—equipped with live-streaming cam and Bluetooth -- you can see them, and they can hear but not see you. The agent will guide you in and around a couple of brand new Caddies, point out the latest features, answer questions on the spot and set up a test drive if you want one.

At least that seems to be the deal. I got to the site a little early - it operates between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET, prime car shopping hours I guess - so I got a taped demo of how it works.  You can book a tour in advance if you want.

The tours provide shoppers multiple dynamic views of the vehicles so they can explore and discuss details of the vehicles. Every agent is equipped with an app that allows them to showcase any color, wheel, and accessory option on-screen for the consumer during the session.

Explore Lounge loading, above ... and loaded. Image Credit Edmund Jenks via screen grab (2019)

Apart from the live tour aspect of the experience, there’s a separate interactive lounge where you can point and click on various images and access an array highly produced videos highlighting various features of the Cadillac lineup.

Isobar is calling the platform a first, by which I’m sure they mean to the best of their knowledge it’s a first. I’ve never seen anything like it, although I haven’t bought a car in the last decade so that doesn’t mean much.

It’s certainly a notch or two above algorithmically created AI assistants with their canned responses, which let’s face it can be pretty annoying and frustrating at times. And car shopping, the agency says can be confusing and intimidating, elements that Cadillac Live is designed to eliminate.
[ht: Richard Whitman, Columnist - Media Post]

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Cadillac Live, Isobar Canada, Dentu Aegis, Digital Showroom, Richard Whitman, Media Post, The EDJE

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Formula 1 World Championship Begins 2019 With Gripping Notes - Whiting & Mercedes

Paying our respects to Charlie Whiting this weekend on the #VF19. #AusGP #F1 #HaasF1 Image Credit: HAAS F1 via Twitter (2019)

Formula 1 World Championship Begins 2019 With Gripping Notes - Whiting & Mercedes

The 2019 Formula 1 World Championship season begins with the biggest drama in Melbourne, Australia being that 1) Longtime competitor as team mechanic becoming Chief Mechanic at Brabham, to staff then Race Director since 1997 at FIA Charlie Whiting passing away from Pulmonary Embolism ... & 2) Mercedes speed domination that continued in the race from nearly having a full second on the field at qualifications.

The sudden passing of Charlie Whiting shocked and gripped the paddocks of Formula 1 as they prepared the cars to compete in the first race of a twenty race season. The Pulmonary Embolism blood clot malady arrest occurred on the morning of Thursday, just three days ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Whiting held a key role in the running of Formula One race weekends as Race Director, overseeing the FIA's operation of all on-track sessions. In addition to his duties at grand prix weekends, he also had a wide-ranging position at the FIA overseeing safety and technical matters in the sport.

This excerpted and edited from CNN -

Charlie Whiting: Formula One race director dies suddenly, aged 66

Leading motorsport figures have paid tribute to Formula One's race director Charlie Whiting following his sudden death after he suffered a pulmonary embolism in Australia.

The 66-year-old Whiting was in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, which kicks off the new Formula 1 season at the weekend.

He had begun his F1 career as part of the Hesketh team, before joining Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham outfit, where he served as the team's chief mechanic during a successful era that saw Nelson Piquet win the World Drivers' Championship (WDC) in both 1981 and 1983.

He had been the motorsport series' race director since 1997. FIA president Jean Todt described Whiting as "a central and inimitable figure in Formula One who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport."

Prior to taking over as the competition's race director, which saw him serve as the official starter of each grand prix, as well as the overseer of F1's rules and regulations, Whiting had initially joined the FIA in 1988 as its technical director.

'Our sort of man'

Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was one of many current and former F1 stars to pay tribute to Whiting, who was seen as the go-to man for drivers on any race weekend.

"What he did for the sport, his commitment, he really was a pillar," Hamilton said. "Such an iconic figure within the sporting world, and he contributed so much to us. May he rest in peace."

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel called him "our sort of man, our drivers' man". He said: "I spoke to him yesterday and walked the track for the first couple of corners together with him. It's difficult to grasp when somebody's just not there anymore.

"He was the middle man. He was someone you could ask anything, at any time. He was open to everyone, any time his door was always open. He was a racer, he was just a very nice guy."

Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn recalled his own long-lasting friendship with Whiting, who also worked with triple world champion Niki Lauda during his time at Brabham.

"I have known Charlie for all of my racing life," he said. "We worked as mechanics together, became friends and spent so much time together at race tracks across the world.

"I was filled with immense sadness when I heard the tragic news. I'm devastated. It is a great loss not only for me personally but also the entire Formula 1 family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole."
[Reference Here]

VALTTERI BOTTAS WINS the 2019 F1 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX for MERCEDES in a MASTERCLASS DOMINANT VICTORY from START to FINISH after a winless 2018! #F1 #F119MEL #MEL #AusGP #AustralianGP #MelbourneGP #Formula1 #points #VB77 #MercedesAMGF1 - Image & Caption Credit: @F1Racing via Twitter

With this backdrop of sadness and loss, the show began in earnest.

This excerpted and edited from ESPN -

Mercedes and the art of throwing pie in everyone's face
By: Nate Saunders - F1 Associate Editor

Oh dear. Mercedes has displayed some pretty ominous pace all weekend in Melbourne but no one was expecting such a comfortable pole position for Lewis Hamilton. Preseason suggested Ferrari would be in the mix but the Italian team has to go back to the drawing board ahead of tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix.
A few weeks ago, Hamilton claimed Ferrari was 0.5 seconds ahead of Mercedes -- a significant margin in F1 over one lap -- and the narrative which formed during the winter was that the Italian team had the edge. All the evidence from Barcelona suggested that was the case. Sebastian Vettel finished 0.7 down on Hamilton's eventual benchmark on Saturday. Mercedes seemed surprised by the gap and how comfortable things have been in Melbourne, while Ferrari expected it to be closer.
[Reference Here]

Motorsport Network's Julia Piquet gives her top five takeaways from the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, the opening round of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship.

Valtteri Bottas dominated the season opener - captures fastest lap point against instruction - after getting ahead of poleman and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on the run to the first corner at the start - first point awarded for fastest lap since 1959.

Ferrari faltered, so Red Bull stepped into the breach - and on to the podium - in its first race with Honda.
(ht: Charles Bradley - Motorsport Report)

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Formula 1, Charlie Whiting, Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, #F1 #F119MEL #MEL #AusGP #AustralianGP #MelbourneGP #Formula1 #points #VB77 #MercedesAMGF, HAAS F1, The EDJE

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Auto Club 400 NASCAR Qualifications Format Renders A Stubbed Toe To Series

He was undefeated in each round of qualifying - @austindillon3 wins the #BuschPole! Image Credit: @ACSupdates (2019)

Auto Club 400 NASCAR Qualifications Format Renders A Stubbed Toe To Series

NASCAR fans who took Friday off from work were treated to a bone-headed display of over-reaching gamesmanship by all of the teams fielding the 38 cars (especially the top 12) set to participate in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Southern California's only NASCAR race of the 2019 season.

NASCAR reset the template of what propels these custom made representations of stock cars that adhere to a formula designed to equalise the competition in the field and reduce the overall costs associated with the equipment needed to participate in a 41 race 2019 season. This 2019 reset effectively reduced the horsepower while increasing the downforce which has the effect of keeping the cars glued to the track at lower speeds. The other effect that, at some tracks has missed the prediction, effects competition is some felt this would increase "pack racing" where the lead car punches through the air having the cars behind the lead car work less hard to achieve full speed until a group of cars pull out and around the lead car, passing at a greater speed overall thus having an advantage of having ones car squarely in the pack for a higher average speed.

With this background knowledge, and having the qualifications for NASCAR be the fastest speed achieved by the top 12 previous fast times during the third qualification round/session shootout to set the field (as opposed to having each car take to the track for a singular three lap try at a top speed as how it is done in IndyCar at oval track races), all of the teams waited until the last minute or so to attempt to put in a lap to be scored.

Consequently, no team was able to actually register a lap time at a race speed before the time of Qualification 3 round ran out causing the race director staff at NASCAR to make the call that the order would be set from the fastest lap times set during Qualification 2 round.

Fans were never treated to the race off by the 38 drivers - and the top 12 who will compete in the Auto Club 400 to see who will start at the most coveted positions at the head of the "PACK" ... which is exactly why many who follow motorsports competition would never become an embedded fan of NASCAR, ever.

This type of tepid race management and competition thinking is a blight on what it means to actually be in competition as a professional pursuit. If this were the only time this type of strategy (lay in wait and reduce the damage) were employed, then Friday's odd call to use the times achieved in Qualification 2 round in order to fill the top 12 of the field would amount to a stubbed toe in the landscape of professional stock car racing ... but this points to a much larger problem - over regulated over management of a racing template placed on formula racing.

Here's what others are observing from this somewhat unusual NASCAR Race Control call to set the top 12 of the field on Qualification 2 round track times achieved.


Penske Racing #22 AAA Southern California Ford Mustang of Joey Logano being pushed from Tech with the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains including Mt. Baldy in the background during Qualifications at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Tom Stahler (2019)

This excerpted and edited from -

Austin Dillon claims ACS pole after no one makes a time
By Josh Farmer

Austin Dillon takes pole in wacky qualifying session

Austin Dillon proved that you have to be lucky and good in qualifying for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway.

The driver of the No. 3 Dow Chemical Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing led the first two 10-minute qualifying session on his way to his fourth career Busch Pole award. NASCAR reverted to the Q2 times when no driver posted an official time in the five-minute pole shootout.

With drafting key to a fast lap at the 2.0-mile superspeedway, drivers hesitated to make runs in all three sessions. The final group was the most extreme with no one taking off until less than a minute to go, which was too late for anyone to cross the start/finish line in time to turn a lap.

Every session featured a last-minute dash with nearly all drivers waiting until just over a minute to go to attempt their qualifying lap. Kurt Busch was the only driver to break the trend in Q2 and logged a lap of 40.644 seconds by himself.

The rest of the field took their laps with just over a minute and 15 seconds to go. When it was all said and done, Dillon was the man on top being the only driver in the 39-second bracket (39.982s).

Dillon, who also won the pole at ACS in 2016, noted that finding an open hole in the pack made all the difference in session two.

“That goes back to round two with Andy Houston (Dillon’s spotter), getting us a hole,” said Dillon. “Our Dow car has been good the whole day, I felt that it was the fastest car here. It feels good to get that pole.

The pole is Dillon's the fourth of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
[Reference Here]

As the Monster Energy Cup cars of NASCAR line up at the pit end line waiting for a good time to take the track and set a time for Qualifying, it looks like the traffic on the I-10 during rush hour. Image Credit: Image Credit: @ACSupdates (2019)

This excerpted and edited from Racer -

Boos send a message about the current state of NASCAR qualifying
By Kelly Crandall

NASCAR will look to have “something different in the queue” by the time Monster Energy Cup Series drivers show up to qualify at Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks.

After all 12 drivers advancing to the third and final round of qualifying at Auto Club Speedway on Friday failed to post even a single qualifying lap, Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, suggested tweaks would have to be made.

Ultimately, the top 12 for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 were determined based on second-round speeds, giving RCR’s Austin Dillon the pole.

“I saw obviously what our fans don’t want,” said Miller outside the NASCAR hauler after an all but silent final qualifying session. “Having the fastest 12 cars wait until they couldn’t get a time posted on the board, making kind of a mockery out of qualifying, is not what our fans expect.

“It’s a little bit on us in that we hoped things would go better than that. It’s an exciting show when they’re all out there on the race track, but obviously, there’s work to do [with the format] on our part so things like that don’t happen. We want to provide our fans with what they deserve, and we and the teams didn’t do a very good job of that today. We’re all really disappointed.”

In both the first and second rounds of qualifying, drivers sat at the end of pit road until late in the session. Then, charging onto the track, drivers tried to position themselves where they felt would be best in line to get a draft.

No one wanted to be the driver pulling the line and in the final round, no one was willing to leave the pits first.

Texas will be the next time the series qualifies at a track where a draft could come into play. Next weekend, the series visits the Martinsville short track.

“We will definitely make some tweaks to [qualifying], not quite sure what,” said Miller. “We don’t want to go back to single-car qualifying. There may not be another way, but we want to exhaust every possibility before we [go back] because that’s not as much fun, not as much of a show as the group situation.

“We’ll try to figure out a way to adjust the group qualifying thing and not go back to single car; but we got some work to do on that.”

Chase Elliott acknowledged no one wanted to be first out on the big Fontana track today. The Hendrick Motorsports driver doesn’t know what the fix should be, but said it was certainly entertaining to see drivers drafting and battling to set up the right gap to benefit from in the first two rounds.

Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, who will start second and ninth respectively, said the fans in the grandstands clearly voiced their displeasure.

“We got booed,” said Bowyer. “It’s disappointing for everybody involved. I don’t know — I saw this coming three weeks ago. I think we all did. Unfortunately, we are going to have to be reactive instead of proactive.

“It’s a learning process, the whole package is. Everybody knew that going in, and everybody has been patient, but I am a little bit out of patience now with Fridays.

“There is so much hard work and dedication by so many teams to go out there and build the fastest car known to mankind inside the walls of their organization, and it just doesn’t matter. That is not racing.

“I feel like we are capable, as an industry, of putting on a better show than this. I know [NASCAR] will take the right [steps] to correct things, but unfortunately, it took something like today to [force] adjustment.”

“I think the crowd booing tells the story,” said Harvick, who deferred to NASCAR about whether a change in the format is necessary. “We do the best that we can, though, to try to put ourselves in the best position; and it was just a handful today.”

Fifth-place qualifier Joey Logano said his No. 22 Team Penske team blew it in the final round, but so did everyone else.

“That’s the game,” he said.

Ryan Newman qualified seventh but was another driver unhappy about how qualifying has played out recently.

“I don’t think that was a very successful use of TV time for our sponsors,” he said. “I told you all back in Vegas that I am still a big fan of single-car qualifying. That is all I need to say, really. That is the way qualifying should be.

“The gamesmanship that goes on now, the lack of giving it 100 percent — that’s not what qualifying is all about.

“But that is the program that NASCAR set forth, the rules they laid down and the box they put us in. Shame on us for not getting a lap in today.”
[Reference Here]

BOOS, Shame, and a less than satisfying Fan Experience was what NASCAR treated the crowd gathered for the only race scheduled for one of the largest concentration of humans a series could have and engage with - at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Toe stubbed in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time - thanks for nuttin', NASCAR.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Auto Club 400, Auto Club Speedway, Monster Energy Cup, NASCAR, Austin Dillon, No. 3 Dow Chemical Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing, @ACSupdates, Tom Stahler, The EDJE

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

SAE SoCal Presents Engineering For The Blancpain GT World Challenge America

For those of you who watched yesterday’s video stream [from St. Petersburg], you saw what a hard hit the KTM took. The Marco Polo Motorsports crew had a long night but excited that Nicolai was fine and then had a spare chassis to build overnight and roll through tech this Morning! #spgp #srogt4 #sroamerica Image & Caption Credit: Jim Jordan SRO America via FB Timeline (2019)

SAE SoCal Presents Engineering For The Blancpain GT World Challenge America

A presentation by SRO Motorsports America hosted by SAE SoCal Section and Automobile Driving Museum through the support of the Motor Press Guild's Motorsports and Car Culture Committee.

Nicolai Elghanayan Steps Out Of Marco Polo Motorsports No. 71 KTM X-Bow after striking the wall in Turn 3. The accident was caused when a wheel on the left-side of the KTM X-Bow came off as driver Nicolai Elghanayan was traveling through the short chute between turns 2 & 3 at an estimated 85 mph. Track safety and SRO World-Challenge personnel helped Nicolai to the responding emergency vehicles for a physical assessment before transferring to the mandatory visit at the track's medical center. Nicolai was cleared to participate in Race 2 of the 2019 Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Series sanctioned by SRO Motorsports America. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks via CBS SRO Motorsports America Live Stream (2019)

The following video is the live stream posted at Facebook of the roughly 90 minute presentation put on by SRO Motorsports America (formally titled the Pirelli World Challenge) entering its 30th season of sanctioning sports car focused racing events.

The 2019 season represents a new era in GT and Touring Car racing for North America now with three distinct series – Blancpain GT World Challenge America, GT4 America, and TC America – SRO Motorsports America offers a wide-range of customer racing based series at top-tier circuits throughout the United States.

The SAE is the leader in connecting and educating mobility professionals to enable safe, clean, and accessible mobility solutions. We promote education in automotive and aerospace technologies for today’s and future engineers.

AUDIO Begins At The 8 Minute Point Of Presentation Video 
Blancpain Engineering Begins At The 24 Minute Point Of Presentation Video

Great to have Robbie Montinola and Honda talk racing with SAE SoCal. Thank you to the SRO for sharing with Jim Jordan and Greg Gill of SRO Motorsports America.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: SRO Motorsports America, SAE SoCal Section, SAE, ADM, Automobile Driving Museum, Motor Press Guild, MPG, Motorsports And Car Culture Committee, Dean Case,Robbie Montinola, Jim Jordan, Greg Gill, The EDJE