Friday, February 29, 2008

ChampCar and IndyCar Become One In 2008

Indy Racing League CEO and founder Tony George shook hands with Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven in front of a packed meeting room at Homestead-Miami Speedway to formally announce the unification. Standing behind them as a sign of unity were nearly two dozen drivers from both series. In photo looking on from left to right: Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti of Andretti/Green Racing, and Robert Doornbos of Minardi Team USA - Image Credit: Shawn Payne

ChampCar and IndyCar Become One In 2008

… and then there was one!

Video Of Announcement

That’s right, there will no longer be two competing major professional open-wheel racing series to split the pool of available team owners, drivers, sponsors, loyalties of fans, and formula rules managed here in North America.

With unification, it will give participants the ability for all to build a competitive series of annual races (Tony George, President of the IRL looks to have 20 races in the schedule for 2009) that will lend the world an alternative to the “Anything Goes” structure of Formula One (which currently has races in 18 venues).

“American” open-wheel automobile racing has always sought to have a formula on which to race focused on safety, and controlling costs while allowing racing teams to have a greater than equal chance at being competitive with each other. On any given race day, any driver could win a pole position or a race because the equipment and the rules that govern the use of the equipment and on track race management (stoppages for debris, accidents and pit stops) help to promote parity.

In Formula One, the expenditures for equipment are basically not an issue and the rules that govern use of technology are at a minimum. On track race management rules do not allow for drivers to catch up during stoppages for accidents and there is no “Yellow Flag” restart process as there is in American auto sports. While the automobiles that are created bust the bounds of imagination in performance, the competition basically remains with the racing teams that spend the most money. Winning is left in the control of two to three teams throughout the course of a season.

Image Credit:

This excerpted from Racing One –

Unification Announced

J.J. O'Malley - RacingOne Contributor - HOMESTEAD, Fla - Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2008

After 12 years of division - and nearly 30 years of animosity - the leaders of American open-wheel racing declared it's time to look forward and proceed with a unified IndyCar Series.

Indy Racing League CEO and founder Tony George shook hands with Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven in front of a packed meeting room at Homestead-Miami Speedway to formally announce the unification. Standing behind them as a sign of unity were nearly two dozen drivers from both series.

Brian Barnhart, IRL vice president of operations, said that anywhere from 8-12 cars from former Champ Car teams could be added to the grid for the season-opening Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300, set for March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Champ Car teams joining the IndyCar Series will each get two Dallara chassis from a pool of exiting new and used chassis; a one-year Honda engine lease; and $1.2 million per car from the IndyCar TEAM program.

To facilitate the transition, Champ Car teams will be partnered with IndyCar Series teams. For instance, Kalkoven's team (now known as KV Racing in partnership with Jimmy Vasser) will work with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Rahal Letterman will work with Newman/Haas/Lanigan, and Andretti Green will work with Forsythe.

Also to be consolidated into the IndyCar Series are several of Champ Car's tangible properties - including the medical transporter - and intellectual and historical properties, including Champ Car's historical records.
[View List Of Drivers That Competed In CART and Champ Car World Series That Will Now Join The History Of The Indianapolis Racing League]

As rumored, the April 20 race at Long Beach, California, will be the final event for the current Champ Car Panoz chassis and Cosworth engines, although it will follow the IndyCar Series purse and point structure. Kalkhoven hinted that he would not be surprised to see several of the IndyCar Series drivers flying in from the Saturday IndyCar Series race at Motegi, Japan, to also race at Long Beach.

In addition, races at Edmonton, Canada, and Surfer's Paradise, Australia, may be added to the current 16-race IRL schedule.

George said at the beginning of the conference that he was recently reflecting on the 30th anniversary of his grandfather's death (former Indianapolis Motor Speedway head Tony Hulman, who passed away in 1977), and realized that it had been 30 years since the sport has been truly unified.
Kalkhoven said that he and George have talked about the unification for four years.

"It's been a long and hard road to get here," Kalkhoven said. "But, we are here. Unification in itself is not a magic bullet. This will take a lot of hard work. This still requires a huge amount of work."

Barnhart said that there was 100 percent attendance by the Champ Car teams at a recent orientation in Indianapolis.

"They were genuinely pleased with the package they were offered," he said.
"We hope to get through this 2008 season and make this a story for the fans," George said. "If the fans are happy, we will have happy teams and sponsors.
The Indy Racing League began competition in 1996, running an initial three-race schedule. The IRL and CART ran head-to-head on the Memorial Day weekend that year, with the U.S. 500 run at Michigan International Speedway the same time that the Indianapolis 500 was run.
Homestead Testing Underway
Wednesday also marked the opening of two days of testing for the IndyCar Series on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval. None of the Champ Car teams had cars at the test, with 17 IndyCar Series regulars participating.

Spring Training continues March 3-6 at Sebring International Raceway. The series will be divided into two groups of cars, each testing for two days.

While the Champ Car teams are not expected to be ready for the Sebring test, they will have two days of testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Monday and Tuesday March 24-25.

In addition to the four cars from Andretti-Green Racing (Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Hideki Mutoh) and two each from Team Penske (Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon) and Marty Roth Racing (Roth and Jay Howard), A.J. Foyt (Darren Manning), Rahal Letterman (Ryan Hunter-Reay) and Panther Racing (Vitor Meira) had one car each for the Homestead test. Vision Racing brought a second car for Anthony Foyt to partner with Ed Carpenter, while Dreyer Reinbold brought a second car for Milka Duno to join Buddy Rice.
The 2008 [unified] IndyCar Series season takes the green flag at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 29, with the Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300
Reference Here>>

Graham Rahal charging a corner ... Team Rahal Letterman will work with Team Newman/Haas/Lanigan - Image Credit: Newman/Haas/Lanigan

Several ChampCar teams that have issued first responses are as follows:

First off, Forsythe Racing will not compete in the unification series (originally paired up with AGR for the transition) opting to pull out and race only in the former feeder series of Formula Atlantic which becomes an unassociated and independent entry-level professional series.

Statement from Frosythe Racing website -

Forsythe Racing to Focus on Atlantic Championship

Champ Car February 28, 2008

Forsythe Championship Racing LLC, which has participated in CART and Champ Car over the past 13 seasons, will cease operations following the April 20th Long Beach Grand Prix. Parent company Forsythe Racing, Inc. will continue its Atlantic program with drivers James Hinchcliffe and David Garza.

Thanks to all the fans who supported us over the years!
Reference Here>>

This, from a strong team with the following statistics:
TEAM STATS Years: 16 Victories: 32 Poles: 34

Paul Tracy needs a ride - Career: 30 Champ Car Wins, 25 Poles, 2003 Champ Car Champion

Conquest Racing was the first team to issue an announcement from team owner, Eric Bachelart stating that they will field two cars fot the season opening race to be held March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Franck Perera was announced as one of the drivers, with the other driver still to be announced.

This excerpted from the IndyCar website -

"Finally, we have come together as one," Bachelart said. "It's been a long time coming and we can now all move ahead in the same direction under one roof. The work is only starting, but now that there is solidarity in open-wheel racing it will make it that much easier to take this sport to where it needs to be.

"It's a great moment for open-wheel racing in general and for the fans and our sponsors. We are happy to be competing under the Indy Racing League banner with our other fellow 'Champ Car' competitors against established IndyCar Series teams and we are also looking forward to the new challenge that this unification brings us."

Added Bachelart, who participated as a driver in the 1992 and 1995 Indianapolis 500:

"The first few races won't be easy, but we gladly accept the challenge. Thankfully, we will not be in complete unknown territory having competed in the IRL in 2002.

Obviously, the competition level has increased since then and there is a lot of work that needs to be done before we get to the same level as the IRL teams, but that's what racing is all about. We are really excited and can't wait to get to work on the Dallaras."
Reference Here>>

Tony Kanaan, right, chats with Bruno Junqueira, while Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe (in red) listen in. Image Credit: Dave Lewandowski -

PKV Racing’s site is under construction.

Dale Coyne Racing’s site hasn’t had a news release since the end of last year although Bruno Junqueira was in attendance at the Homestead announcement.

Rocketsports Racing – No Update since 2-5-2008

Dutchman, Robert Doornbos of Minardi Team USA in the "Fountain Corner" at the 2007 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Sutton Motorsport Images

Minardi Team USA - No Update since 2-4-2008

This excerpted from Walker Racing website –

UPDATE FOR THE FANS: Back to the Future

By: Derrick Walker - February 23, 2008

After four long weeks, we can finally say the deal is done. Walker Racing wanted to take this opportunity to update the fans again with what we know and where we go from here.
Now the merger is done. It's day one of the rest of our lives. What are we doing and what is needed to complete the transition for the teams?

One of the major hurdles for the teams is going to be getting access to all of the parts necessary to turn up and compete at a level similar to what they were doing in Champ Car. There is a lot to learn about the new car, which will be a separate learning curve and a separate hurdle. In the next six weeks the teams have to get cars, kits and all the parts necessary to run the cars, build them and test for at least four to six days, which will be a luxury if they manage it for the first event.
Top down view of the very capable DP01 racing chassis that will go away after the 2008 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Image Credit: Walker Racing

Probably the most difficult factor for the teams will be acquainting themselves to an IRL car. There is a lot to be done in a short span of time and, because of the time frame, it will be an expensive six weeks for the teams to endure.

Having said that, it's probably the cart before the horse when looking at what needs to be done. Once it's known what the series is doing and everyone has gotten over the merger announcement, it needs to be determined if the sponsors are still interested.
If you take Walker Racing specifically, since the last race in 2007, we have gone from a two car program in Champ Car to maybe a two car program in the IndyCar Series. A lot of time has been lost in being able to move forward and secure a two car program. One car is the first step. I think the Champ Car teams are going to be somewhat surprised when they see the cost of the Indy Car and this will be an ongoing concern as the season unfolds.

For example, in Champ Car you can't do wind tunnel testing. In the IndyCar Series you can.
These are all differences and transitional ramp up elements, which is specifically team related. As we have seen in the Champ Car situation, it is possible to reduce the cost and not affect the show. For the 2007 season, there were more competitive entries and more challenges for race wins than there probably was in the last three years prior. Stabilizing the formula, bringing the costs down, and containing development would really be a request, if nothing else, to the league for 2010.
All of the employees and drivers (Will Power and Simon Pagenaud) have been extremely patient with the process. It's hard to imagine saying to an athlete who's racing or playing for a championship to put their careers on hold for several months while the sport decides if it's going to be playing at Wimbledon or not. It's hard to imagine the effect on a driver to be put on hold like this, but Will has been very supportive of the team and has been standing by for this important announcement to be made so that he can get into the car and go racing.

We would like to continue to thank the fans for your continued support. We will keep you posted on this new journey and what this means for open wheel racing and Walker Racing.

Reference Here>>

Image Credit: Pacific Coast Motorsports (LAT, 2007)

And finally, this from Pacific Coast Motorsports website –

Pacific Coast Motorsports Statement on the Unification of Open-Wheel Racing
Katie Brannan, Feburary 22, 2008

Tyler Tadevic, Team Director - Pacific Coast Motorsports

“We are thrilled to have a unified series, without a doubt this provides the strongest platform for our partners going forward. It is our intention for Pacific Coast Motorsports to continue its open-wheel endeavors. Our goal is to be on the IRL grid at the GAINSCO Grand Prix in Miami with two IndyCars. We are working diligently on this program and welcome all opportunities.

In addition, it is our intention to continue our Atlantic program with our young American stars Frankie Muniz and Carl Skerlong. Vicki O’Connor (Atlantic President) has a long, successful history leading the Atlantic series and we are confident she will find the series a good home.

We are grateful to the Champ Car community and to our fans who have shown us great support and we look forward to a brighter future for Open-Wheel Racing in North America.”
Reference Here>>

Let's Go Racing!

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hot Wheels, Yes, Hot Wheels Turns 40

Image Credit: Hot Wheels Collectors

Hot Wheels, Yes, Hot Wheels Turns 40

Man I feel old, at this year’s Toy Fair in New York, Hot Wheels will show off a design competition for a Hot Wheels car between real automobile designers to celebrate the fact that Mattel’s Hot Wheels will turn forty years old. Oh, and unveil the most expensive tiny toy car ever built. It kinda’ makes one wonder what do they have up their sleeve for the 50th celebration?

Hot Wheels Diamond Encrusted Car - The diamonds on the custom-made jeweled car, valued at $140,000, total more than 2,700 and weigh nearly 23 carats. The car is cast in 18-karat white gold, while the majority of the vehicle is detailed with micro pave-set brilliant blue diamonds, mimicking Hot Wheels® Spectraflame® blue paint. Under the functional hood, the engine showcases additional micro pave-set white and black diamonds. The Hot Wheels® flame logo found on the underbelly of the car is lined with white and black diamonds. Red rubies are set as the tail lights, while black diamonds and red enamel create the "Red Line®" wheels. The custom-made case that houses the jewel-encrusted vehicle also holds 40 individual white diamonds, signifying each year in the legacy of the Hot Wheels® brand. Jason Arasheben -CEO and owner of Jason of Beverly Hills and Geoff Walker -VP of Hot Wheels marketing help out at the unveiling of the One-Of-A kind Jeweled Car in New York at the Mattel Showroom. Caption Credit: Hot Wheels Collectors - Image Credit:

If you were in the New York area from February 17 to February 20, 2008, you would have been able to catch the showing and the competition for yourself. If you not able to have been there, viewing the photos and videos placed here at The Edge just might be the next best thing.

A road trip is planned for this summer that will begin at Mattel’s (and Hot Wheels) company headquarters, and end at Watkins Glen. There, Hot Wheels will partner with the Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen to participate in the annual celebratory kick-off event honoring the history of the town and race track.

Image Credit: Hot Wheels Collectors

This from a Press Release issued by General Motors - Global -

40-Year-Old Hot Wheel Speeds Up Its Appeal at Toy Fair
General Motors - Global - [21-Feb-2008]

Hot Wheels will turn 40 this year, and to commemorate its iconic anniversary, the toy’s maker hosted a makeover competition.

Automakers were asked to submit ideas combining their own brand with the toy’s motto of power, speed and performance.

With no rules, federal regulations, speed limits or limits on prices, six designers came up with a slew of ideas inspired from both childhood memories and previous collections.

Chevrolet designer Amaury Diaz Serrano came up with the Chevroletor, a vehicle inspired by Serrano’s own Hot Wheels collection and the 1957 Corvette SS. Other top designs included Ford’s Gangster Grin, the Dodge XP-07, the Honda Racer and Mitsubishi’s Double Shotz.
(ht: The News Market)

GM’s Chevroletor - Image Credit:

Ford’s Gangster Grin - Image Credit:

Honda Racer - Image Credit:

Dodge XP-07 - Image Credit:

Lotus's 40H - Image Credit:

And this excerpted from Hot Wheels Collectors fansite –

Hot Wheels® Designer's Challenge™

For the first time in its history, Mattel went outside of its in-house design team to seek new car designs and to honor the automotive partners that attributed to the success of Hot Wheels® cars over the years. Car designers from Dodge, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Lotus and Mitsubishi designed their version of a Hot Wheels® concept car based on the brand's attributes of speed, power, performance and attitude. Each submitted design was created in a 1:5-scale model and unveiled this past October at the 2007 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas [with the finished retail 1:64-scale version to be unveiled at the New York Toy Fair]. In late March the 1:64-scale versions will be available at retailers nationwide as part of the Designer's Challenge™ product line.

"I’ve been involved in multi-million dollar concept car designs but not everyone can relate to these kinds of projects," said Amaury Diaz Serrano, creative designer, General Motors. "But, everyone can relate to a Hot Wheels. Regardless of age, race or background, everyone has fond memories of playing with them. To be able to design for Hot Wheels is the closest I will ever get to winning an Oscar."

Hot Wheels® Cross-Country Road Trip

This summer, fans across the country will be invited to celebrate the 40th anniversary as Hot Wheels® travels Highway 40 to bring together automotive enthusiasts of all ages. Kicking off at Mattel's headquarters in El Segundo in mid-August, the road trip will make stops at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah; Speed, KS; Indianapolis; and Detroit, before culminating in a grand finale celebration on September 5 in Watkins Glen, NY -- home to American road racing.

At each road trip stop, Hot Wheels® will host a free event that will be open to the public. Each event will feature life-size Hot Wheels® cars, kiosks where people can create their own custom Hot Wheels® “drivers license,” family-friendly activities, and the opportunity to receive a commemorative 1:64-scale Hot Wheels® car created especially for each stop, available in limited quantities.

"40 years. Four billion cars. It is a year of exciting milestones for Hot Wheels," said Geoff Walker, vice president, Wheels Marketing, Mattel Brands. "We just can't wait to get on the road to celebrate with the millions that share the Hot Wheels passion."
Reference Here>>

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Open-Wheel Talent At Daytona 500 In A Big Way

Dario Franchitti's "Car-Of-The-Future" / Dodge Journey Charger - The latest big name open-wheel champion to jump into the waters of NASCAR. Image Credit: Freewheeling Daredevil at Daytona during Speedweeks 2008

Open-Wheel Talent At Daytona 500 In A Big Way

That's right, open-wheel racing talent will be represented at the 50th running of the NASCAR stock car season kickoff Daytona 500 in a big way.

Champions League is what we'll choose to call them here at The EDJE. It’s a league within a league and frankly, these drivers, and their skill coming to the most prolific and commercial of world autosport racing series, NASCAR, is long overdue.

The chasm that had existed in the culture between open-wheel and “stock” car racing series was a little like Television actors not respecting Feature movie actors or either not respecting Broadway actors and visa-versa.

Get over yourselves and do what you all do best – RACE!

Sign of the Times – This 50th anniversary Daytona 500 logo will be seen early and often in the countdown the 2008 running of the “Great American Race.” Image Credit:

Why is it that only two open-wheel racing team owners are fielding teams at NASCAR, and conversely, NO stock car team owners field teams at Champ Car World Series or Indianapolis Racing League?

Those drivers with recognizable names with ample open-wheel racing experience are as follows (past open-wheel champions in BOLD):

Did Not Qualify - AJ Allmendinger (2004 CCWS Rookie of the Year), Patrick Carpentier (1997-2004 CART, 2005 IRL), Jacques Villeneuve (1995 CART Championship, 1995 Indy 500 winner, 1997 F1 Championship)

Quailfied Car #/Position: Tony Stewart #20/6 (1997 IRL Champion), Casey Mears #5/9 ( 5 CART starts, with one top-5 finish, 3 IRL starts, no top-5 finishes/nephew of four time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears ), Juan Pablo Montoya #42/15 (1999 CART Champion, 2000 Indy 500 Winner,F1), Sam Hornish Jr #77/19 (2001, 2002, 2006 IRL Champion), John Andritti #43/22 (1988 CART Rookie Of The Year [61 top-10s in 74 career races in CART], IRL), Robbie Gordon #7/26 (1992-1999 CART [106 starts], Indy 500 [10 starts] ), Dario Franchitti #40/40 (1997-2002 CART, 2003-2007 IRL, 2007 IRL Champion, 2007 Indy 500 winner)

Starting lineup for the 2008 running of the 50th Daytona 500. Video Credit: nadeau1064

This excerpted from ABC News -

An open-wheel invasion of NASCAR is in full swing for 2008.

By TERRY BLOUNT - Feb. 7, 2008

Since NASCAR's early days, stars of open-wheel racing have occasionally stopped by to visit.

Things have changed. Now they're coming to stay.

The 2008 Daytona 500 will have at least three Indy 500 winners on the starting grid -- Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish Jr. and Dario Franchitti. Jacques Villeneuve will make it a historic foursome if he qualifies.

Having Indy 500 winners at Daytona is nothing new. Even 45 years ago, four men who would win Indy competed in the Daytona 500 -- A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, Troy Ruttman and Parnelli Jones. But two of them -- Jones and Rutherford -- hadn't accomplished the feat at the time.

The 1981 race was the last time two men with Indy 500 wins on their résumés -- Rutherford and Foyt -- competed in the Daytona 500.

In the past, the big names of Indy were just passing through, racing in NASCAR's biggest show as a little sidelight before heading back to the open cockpit.

And for the most part, they were Americans who sounded the same (well, sort of) and didn't have hard-to-pronounce names. They just happened to spend most of their racing careers in a different discipline.

They could make more money and gain more fame by concentrating on Indy cars. Frankly, the idea of racing full time in NASCAR was laughable.

2008 Daytona 500 Pace Car - Image Credit:

Who's laughing now? Indy-car racing did everything possible to destroy itself over the past decade with two competing leagues and constant feuding.

The open-wheelers are here now because it's the place to be. The men who won the past two Indy 500s -- Hornish and Franchitti -- will race full time in Sprint Cup. Neither will race in the 2008 Indy 500.

Montoya coming to Sprint Cup last year was just the beginning.
Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier are Canadians who plan to race full time in Cup this season.

Cup will have four foreign-born drivers competing for the first time. Montoya is Colombian and Franchitti is a Scotsman.

They are bringing attention to the sport from people and places that never cared in the past. But there's also an element of NASCAR's old guard that doesn't like it.
NASCAR officials have embraced a "return-to-its-roots" theme for the 2008 season to try to regain the trust of the old-school fans. Obviously, the open-wheel invasion doesn't help sell that concept.

Most of the veteran drivers don't care. The open-wheelers are just other guys they have to beat.

"To me, it makes no difference," said Ryan Newman, Hornish's teammate at Penske Racing. "I was an open-wheel driver [sprint cars] when I came in. I just wasn't an IndyCar driver.

"The bottom line is they're drivers, they're competitors. I don't care whether they're male or female, open-wheel drivers or late-model drivers from the local short track. They will learn if they deserve to be here. In the car owners' and sponsors' eyes, they feel that they are."
This is an uphill climb on an icy slope. It's unlikely any of them will enjoy the type of success Montoya had last year when he finished 20th in the standings. Montoya won the road race at Sonoma and had six top-10s.

For now, Montoya is in a league of his own among the open-wheel newbies.
Talent isn't always enough. Carpentier and Villeneuve don't have guaranteed spots in the field, racing in cars that never have come close to winning.

Hornish, a three-time IndyCar Series champion, does have a guaranteed spot. He swapped points with teammate Kurt Busch. But Hornish is part of a new third car at Penske with a new crew, an almost certain recipe for struggle.

Franchitti is going to an organization (Ganassi Racing) that hasn't won an oval-track race in five seasons.
"It was a tough decision to make," Hornish said. "But I got to a point in my career where I decided this was the next challenge.
Money tops the list. NASCAR is their best option for cashing in while they can. Villeneuve and Carpentier are 36. Franchitti is 34. Time is running out.

Another reason is safety. NASCAR has become a much safer form of racing compared to open-wheel cars. Franchitti was lucky to escape unhurt from two terrifying airborne crashes last year en route to the IndyCar Series championship.
"I know it's going to be hard," Franchitti said. "But every year since I started racing, I've always asked myself one question at the end of the season: 'Do I still want to do this?' Being in NASCAR is what I really want to do."
Reference Here>>

UPDATE - Post Race Results For "The Champions League" (the league within a league) -

50th Daytona 500 Finish – Video Credit: Mikey2448

The race was won by Ryan Newman, Sam Hornish's teammate on the Roger Penske Racing team. So the race was won by an open-wheel racing series team owner.

Order of finish for those who have open-wheel racing experience:

Tony Stewart - 3, Robby Gordon - 8, Sam Hornish Jr. - 15, Juan Pablo Montoya - 32, Dario Franchitti - 33, Casey Mears - 35, John Andretti - 40
Reference Here>>

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, February 15, 2008

Meet “sQuba” - The World's First Bi-Athlete Electric Car

“Dive it again, James!” If the situation gets too hot for the secret agent he’ll go underground - or under water. So demonstrated impressively by Roger Moore in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me” in 1977 when he dove below the waves in a sleek vehicle that moments before seemed to be an ordinary car. Image Credit: Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

Meet “sQuba” - The World's First Bi-Athlete Electric Car

An electric powered car … that swims!

Three electric motors are located in the rear compartment of the Rinspeed “sQuba”. One provides propulsion on land, the other two drive the screws for underwater motoring. Image Credit: Rinspeed

That’s right, a “green” car that can go into and tool around in the blue!

The “sQuba” by Rinspeed, is to be introduced to the world at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show (March 6th - 16th, 2008) in Geneva, Switzerland. With this introduction comes the first, ever, car that can actually fly under water.

You drive the car into the water and the car floats. That is, until you crack the door to let the water in. Immediately the “sQuba” starts on his way to the underwater world. The occupants’ breathing air comes from an integrated tank of compressed air that divers know from scuba diving. Image Credit: Rinspeed

Growing up, we all remember going to the movies to watch James Bond take off from a pier, into the water in order to investigate the hijacking of submarines carrying nuclear warheads, in “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Problem was is that this concept car in the 1977 film never existed … movie tricks!

With the introduction of the Rinspeed “sQuba,” the world’s first real submersible car, the movie fakery now becomes reality.

This excerpted from the Rinspeed website -

Thirty years after the movie thriller ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ hit the silver screen “sQuba” is the first car that can actually ‘fly’ under water.

“Dive it again, James!” If the situation gets too hot for the secret agent he’ll go underground - or under water. So demonstrated impressively by Roger Moore in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me” in 1977 when he dove below the waves in a sleek vehicle that moments before seemed to be an ordinary car.
The scene never really took place; it was an animation.
Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht (52) is known for his extraordinary automotive creations. The acknowledged James Bond enthusiast and Swiss automobile visionary kept revisiting this scene in his mind over and over: “For three decades I have tried to imagine how it might be possible to build a car that can fly under water. Now we have made this dream come true.”

Levers help to steer the "sQuba" when it is underway, underwater. Image Credit: Rinspeed

And it is this submerged stabile flight at a depth of 10 meters that sets the “sQuba” apart from military vehicles. While the latter can go under water, they are limited to driving slowly over the submerged ground. Rinderknecht: “It is undoubtedly not an easy task to make a car watertight and pressure resistant enough to be maneuverable under water. The real challenge however was to create a submersible car that moves like a fish in water.”

It also had to be a sports car that was converted into a diving dream in the facilities of Swiss engineering specialist Esoro.

In a first step the combustion engine was removed and replaced by several electric motors. Three motors are located in the rear. One provides propulsion on land, the other two drive the screws for underwater motoring. They are supported by two powerful Seabob jet drives in the front, which ‘breathe’ through special rotating louvers from HS Genion (for opening and closing the water intake). The rotating outlet jets were designed to be extremely light yet twist resistant by using high-tech nano materials, so-called Carbon Nano Tubes.
You drive the car into the water and the car floats. That is, until you crack the door to let the water in. Immediately the “sQuba” starts on his way to the underwater world. The occupants’ breathing air comes from an integrated tank of compressed air that divers know from scuba diving.
It is even capable of autonomous driving on land thanks to a sophisticated laser sensor system from the Hamburg company Ibeo - without any help from the driver or passenger.

Power is supplied by rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries. Rinderknecht: “The ‘sQuba’ is a zero-emission car as documented by the rotating license plate in the rear. It produces no exhaust emissions.
For shore leave the “sQuba” relies on a stainless coil-over suspension from KW automotive and large Pirelli tires mounted on custom-made forged light-weight wheels from AEZ with 17- and 18-inch diameters.
Frank M. Rinderknecht and his partners - amongst them also the fleet specialist LeasePlan - have created a truly unusual vehicle and in the process have thought of everything. Even the Motorex lubricants used in the ‘sQuba” are biodegradable. For the Rinspeed boss that is a meticulousness stemming from conviction: “The ‘sQuba’ lets me be one with the elements and lets me immerse myself in a new and fascinating world - with Q factor. It is our duty to protect this world in which we are guests to the best of our ability.” Isn’t it, Miss Moneypenny? - James couldn’t have said it better himself glancing at the sporty Swiss precision chronograph from C.F. Bucherer. Eau la la - shaken, not stirred.
Reference Here>>

With the intorduction of the Rinspeed "sQuba" ... anyone can become 007! Image Credit: Rinspeed

… notes from The EDJE

Thursday, February 14, 2008

American Le Mans Series Goes Cellulosic

Sebring International Raceway has announced the 2008 inductees into the Sebring Sports Car Racing Hall of Fame. American Le Mans Series team owner Roger Penske, Derek Bell, Hans Stuck, David Cowart and Audi will join the prestigious Hall of Fame during ceremonies on Friday, March 14, the day before the 56th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Image Credit: Dan Boyd, American Le Mans Series

American Le Mans Series Goes Cellulosic

North American racing enthusiasts have long known the benefits of using the renewable energy fuel, Corn Based Ethanol … beginning with CART (when open-wheel racing was unified) and its current form Champ Car World Series and Indianapolis Racing League. Its main benefit as a racing fuel is that the fuel can be diluted with water, making it much easier to control should a spill happen through the action of a pit stop.

Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing’s #2 DP01 race car in technical inspection on day two of qualifications for the 2008 Long Beach Grand Prix. The car driven by Graham Rahal, son of racing legend Bobby Rahal, is one of two American-born drivers to compete in the Champ Car World Series for 2008. The other driver is Alex Figge driving car #29 for Pacific Coast Motorsports. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (… notes from The EDJE) - 2007

This year will see the first series to introduce the exclusive use of a greener form of Ethanol. The American Le Mans Series full bodied sport car racing series that will be here for their third race of a twelve race season, at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 18-20, 2008, will run the full year on Cellulosic Ethanol.

Cellulosic Ethanol, while chemically the same as ethanol made from a food source (Corn), uses fermented and converted fiber material from grasses, landscape yard waste, twigs, and the waste husks from Corn to make a more efficient form of biofuel. Many believe that this process approach will become the future biofuel process to allow reduced dependence on petroleum based fuels for everyday use.

Cellulosic Ethanol is just what Corvette Racing will be using to power their C6.R racing cars this season. The C6.R competes in the GT1 class, which features production-based sportscars that have then been highly modified. Image Credit: ARS Technica

This excerpted from ARS Technica -

Cellulosic ethanol makes its racing debut
By Jonathan M. Gitlin Published: February 12, 2008 - 03:01PM CT

It might seem odd for someone who writes about climate change to be a racing fan, but no one ever said life was uncomplicated. Concern for the environment and a desire to see cars run flat out around a track aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, as car companies and racing teams test new automotive technology in the crucible that is the race track.

Most major racing series, mindful of the need to put out a more green image, have plans in the works to make their industry a little more environmentally friendly.
But if you're looking for a racing series that best advances automotive technology, you need to be watching the American Le Mans Series.

A series that runs in the US with rules (mainly) written by the organizers of the 24-hour race at Le Mans, the ALMS is a series for sports cars, from the production-based GT1 and GT2 classes to the exotic, carbon-fiber bodied P1 and P2 prototype classes. Audi and Peugeot have been contesting the P1 class with a pair of prototypes (the R10 and 908) that both feature V12 diesel engines, and most other competitors are using a biofuel ethanol/gasoline blend.

However, although corn's use as a biofuel has been touted frequently by politicians (who may or may not have been campaigning in Iowa), it is becoming more and more obvious that corn-based ethanol is not the panacea once thought. Cellulosic ethanol, on the other hand, doesn't involve taking food and converting it to fuel. And that's just what Corvette Racing are going to be using to power their C6.R racing cars this season. The C6.R competes in the GT1 class, which features production-based sportscars that have then been highly modified. Earlier today, I got a chance to speak to team boss Doug Feehan about the fuel switch for 2008.

Feehan explained to me that they feel cellulosic ethanol, supplied by KL Process Design Group, represents the second generation of biofuels, and the team wants to be on the forefront of the industry as they move away from corn-based biofuels to more environmentally sound sources. The C6.Rs will use the biofuel in the ALMS series, but not at Le Mans this summer, where they hope to make last year's Aston Martin victory a one-off. The seven-liter V8 engines are quite happy using the E85 fuel, but fuel consumption is around 20-25 percent worse than gasoline. It is expected that the sport's sanctioning body will require GT cars that aren't using E85 to fit smaller gas tanks to compensate.

You'll be able to see for yourself how the switch is going at the first race of the season, The 12 Hours of Sebring, which will be held March 12 through 15, and later in the season, we hope to have a look at the car in person and report how they're getting on. For racing to continue to be relevant, it has to respond to the world around us, and, as far as the ALMS goes, it seems to be responding well.
Reference Here>>

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Steps Out, And Steps Up!

After smoking the Shootout field, Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates in a suitable fashion at Daytona International Speedway. Image Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Steps Out, And Steps Up!
(UPDATED With YouTube Video)

In the very first professional stock car race of the season, the race that acts as the opening act to a gathering of racing enthusiast on the East coast of Florida, Daytona Speed Weeks 2008, Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins pulling away from rival Tony Stewart.

The race known as the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, does not count in the 2008 points championship, allows the top NASCAR teams to tune up for the infamous season opening Daytona 500 (50th year) to be staged this next weekend, February 17, 2008.

Even though the Budweiser Shootout does not award points, it carries a sizeable purse and bragging rights. The bragging rights for Dale Earnhardt Jr. become even greater given the fact that this is the first race he has competed in after leaving the team his late father and stepmother (Teresa Earnhardt) formed and the team where he had his greatest successes – Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI). Dale left when he could not secure an agreement with DEI to participate in the management of the future of the team to a greater level.

“Junior” won the race with the drafting help of teammate Jimmie Johnson … after the race's fourth and final caution, set up the green-and-white-checkered finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a new look in victory lane after winning the Budweiser Shootout all-star race on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Image Credit: The Kansas City Star/Production Affiliate

This excerpted from The Boston Globe –

Earnhardt wins with help from new friends
By Michael Vega - Globe Staff / February 10, 2008

Looking to make a favorable first impression with his new Hendrick Motorsports team, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won last night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, kicking off Speedweeks 2008 in rousing fashion by holding off runner-up Tony Stewart in a green-and-white-checkered finish.

"What a race. Good job, guys," Earnhardt hollered to his crew over the radio after he crossed the finish line to record his second Shootout triumph. "What a great racecar. This might be a [Daytona] 500 winner and you might not know it."

Car owner Rick Hendrick chimed in, "What a way to start the deal, baby."

Earnhardt made headlines in May when he announced his decision to defect from Dale Earnhardt Inc.,
But he made an even bigger splash in June when he joined forces with the sport's most dominant team.

Last night, that union paid huge dividends for Earnhardt, who received timely drafting help from his Hendrick teammates, most notably Jimmie Johnson in the final three laps.

"I had a blast," said Earnhardt, who ended a 62-race drought that dated to his victory at Richmond two years ago. "The last few laps, I got some great help from my teammates, but I wouldn't have won the race without Jimmie pushing me. So thanks to him and [crew chief Chad Knaus] for working so hard to get [Johnson's] backup ready."
Nine laps into the race, Earnhardt powered his way to the front with a bold inside move on the backstretch and went on to lead the remaining 11 laps before pitting for a scheduled 10-minute intermission before the resumption of racing in a final 50-lap segment.
When racing resumed on Lap 28, Toyota driver Dave Blaney, who delivered his car manufacturer its first Cup pole victory last July at New Hampshire, went to the front. Blaney's lead was short-lived when Earnhardt moved back in front on Lap 35.

Earnhardt proceeded to joust with Stewart for the lead, but the driver of the No. 88 car got some timely help in building a commanding lead from Hendrick teammates Gordon and Mears. (Mears's car failed postrace inspection for being too low, the Associated Press reported, and NASCAR planned to look more closely at the car today.)
Kurt Busch's brilliant save of his spinning car in Turn 3 brought out the race's fourth and final caution, setting up a green-and-white-checkered finish. After racing Stewart side-by-side, Earnhardt, with Johnson's draft support, took the lead on Lap 69.

"It's hard to beat Dale Jr.," Stewart said. "I mean, he's one of the best restrictor-plate drivers that's ever been, so he learned a lot from his dad. I'm not sure he's not better than his dad now, in all honesty. To run with him and the Hendrick guys, I thought we fought a good fight tonight."

Reference Here>>

2008 Budweiser Shootout - Finish Part 1

2008 Budweiser Shootout - Finish Part 2

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Automated Pitstops Not So Far Off …

As seen through the rearview mirror - Robotic arm opens the fuel flap, unscrews cap, inserts nozzel, and fuels car ... all without the driver having to leave the car. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV

Automated Pitstops Not So Far Off …

Why not?

Why not automate the pitstops of major autoracing series such as the IRL, ChampCar, F1, A1 GP, NASCAR, or American Le Mans?

The Tankpitstop as it appears at a Shell station fueling island. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV

In order to gain a racing advantage edge or level the playing field, we have seen the introduction of traction control, rev limiters, run flat tires, carburetor restrictor plates, turbo pop-off valves, custom control steering wheels (with readouts, shifting paddles, adjustment switches, push-to-pass, and more), full on-track RFID to aid in car track position, and etc.

Fans and enthusiasts have long complained that the driver has been taken out of the racing equation.

Here is a technology that, if perfected, could begin the conversion of the work performed by the pit crew team to a robotic process. This technology would allow the autoracing team pitstop to become an automated process as well.

A trip to the gas station of the future may no longer require the driver to leave the car. Tankpitstop the Robot will do it all for you. Video Credit: Copyright 2008 KahawaFilm (

This excerpted from Reuters -

Dutch unveil robot to fill car gas tank
Reporting by Alexandra Hudson, editing by Ralph Boulton - Reuters (EMMELOORD, Netherlands) - Mon Feb 4, 2008 - 11:25am EST

Dutch inventors unveiled on Monday a 75,000 euro ($111,100) car-fuelling robot they say is the first of its kind, working by registering the car on arrival at the filling station and matching it to a database of fuel cap designs and fuel types.

The Tankpitstop robotic arm as it inserts the fueling nozzel for a fill up at a neighborhood Shell station. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV

A robotic arm fitted with multiple sensors extends from a regular gas pump, carefully opens the car's flap, unscrews the cap, picks up the fuel nozzle and directs it towards the tank opening, much as a human arm would, and as efficiently.

"I was on a farm and I saw a robotic arm milking a cow. If a robot can do that then why can't it fill a car tank, I thought," said developer and petrol station operator Nico van Staveren. "Drivers needn't get dirty hands or smell of petrol again."

He hopes to introduce the "Tankpitstop" robot in a handful of Dutch stations by the end of the year.
Asked whether he would trust his car to a robotic garage attendant, Jelger De Kroon, filling his black Alfa Romeo at a nearby gas station, said:

"Why not? I guess I could keep my hands free and clean, but I'd hope they have good insurance."
Reference Here>>

Why not level the playing field and automate the work of the racing team pit crew in competitive racing situations?

With this approach, fan and team complaints could be spread out by taking the pit crew out of the equation and implement fully automated and equalized pitstops. Just kidding …

… notes from The EDJE.

Friday, February 1, 2008

It’s A Hollywood Debut For Pacific Coast Motorsports

Frankie Muniz (left) and Carl Skerlong make up the 2008 driver lineup for PCM's Atlantic program. Image Credit: PCM 2008/CCWS website

It’s A Hollywood Debut For Pacific Coast Motorsports

Being a member of the Champ Car Inner Circle fan club has it’s benefits. For example, the other day I receive in my email inbox an invitation to join an event that was being held up on Universal City Walk where a CCWS Atlantic racing series team was going to make it’s 2008 team debut campaign announcement.

The event was scheduled to start Wednesday, January 30, 2008 – 7:00 P.M. – about a half an hour after the Republican Presidential Primary Debate that was being broadcast from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, staged right in front of the reassembled Boing 747 that had served as President Reagan’s Air Force One while he was in office, was scheduled to end.

City Walk is easy to get to from where I reside here in Toluca Lake, it is just one mile away, and up on the hill near the amusement park.

Let’s go! … and go we did.

Universal City Walk at night. The blue neon outline of King Kong hanging off of the building ahead in left frame. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks/The EDJE

Drive to the MTA station parking lot at the bottom of the hill (nobody walks in LA!), grab the Universal Studios shuttle tram for the slow ride up the 20% or so grade to the top of the hill to be let off just around the corner of the signature spinning world fountain at the Universal Studios entrance. Walk the City Walk past Sparky’s, The Daily Grill, Bubba Gump’s, The NASCAR Racing Amusement Arcade, underneath King Kong hanging off the side of a building, on past a few more eateries forward to the large guitar standing in front of the Hard Rock Café, Hollywood (originally named Hard Rock Café, Universal City).

Two shrouded CCWS Atlantic cars bookended a gathering that included PCM team director Tyler Tadevic as announcer/interviewer, team drivers - Carl Skerlong and Frankie Muniz, race engineer’s Burke Harrison and Tim Lewis, and a host of Committee 300 Long Beach Grand Prix voenteers, fans (as EDJE was one), and a large contingent of entertainment and sports media.

President/Team Director, Tyler Tadevic rests his arms on the drivers who will campaign for Pacific Coast Motorsports in the CCWS Atlantic series 2008 season. The drivers are Frankie Muniz (on left) and Carl Skerlong (on right). Image Credit: Edmund Jenks/The EDJE

This excerpted from the CCWS website -

Hollywood, CA (Jan. 30, 2008)

Frankie Muniz (left) and Carl Skerlong - 2008 Pacific Coast Motorsports CCWS Atlantic drivers next to the car Frankie Muniz is expected to drive for the season. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks/The EDJE

Pacific Coast Motorsports, a two-car team in the Champ Car World Series, announced tonight that they will expand their racing team with a two-car entry in the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. PCM also announced their all-American driver lineup, Carl Skerlong and Frankie Muniz.

Pacific Coast Motorsports Champ Car driver Alex Figge acquired the Bakersfield-based US RaceTronics Atlantic team. The team will be based at PCM's Oxnard, California, headquarters and will compete under the Pacific Coast Motorsports banner. Former US RaceTronics team owner, Shane Seneviratne will manage the Atlantic program.

PCM team director Tyler Tadevic made the announcement under the famous Hard Rock guitar at a media event at the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Studios tonight in Hollywood. Tadevic commented on the team's desire to return to their racing roots.

"We're really proud to be returning to the series where we won the 2004 championship, and we are looking forward to continuing our winning tradition," Tadevic said. "As a graduate of the series, Alex is a believer of the product; this is an important program to him. Shane has a history of running championship-winning teams and we saw this as a terrific opportunity to return to Atlantic competition.

"We feel we've got two exceptional young drivers on board. They're both quick and very professional. We've got an exciting season ahead of us."

Skerlong, 19, of Mukilteo, Washington, will drive the #28 King Taco/Mazda/Swift. Skerlong made an impressive debut in the Atlantic series in 2007 with two podium finishes and a top-10 finish in the series championship. Skerlong will be paired with two-time Atlantic championship-winning (2003, 2004) race engineer Burke Harrison,

"I am so excited about this opportunity," Skerlong said. "I am really happy to be able to continue my relationship with Shane, but grateful for the tools and resources racing for Pacific Coast Motorsports will offer. I have one goal this year, and that is to win the Atlantic series title and the $2 million prize in the #28 King Taco car."

Frankie Muniz rests helmet on the front right tire of his Atlantic series ride for 2008 between photography shots. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks/The EDJE

Muniz, 22, of Los Angeles, will drive the #29 PCM/Mazda/Swift in his sophomore season of Atlantic competition. Most people will recognize Frankie as an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor, but 2008 will mark his third season as a professional racecar driver.

"Joining PCM is a huge step forward for me in my racing career," said Muniz. "In the three tests I have already completed, I have learned so much and really developed my skills as a racing driver. Tim Lewis, my race engineer, has a championship-winning record behind him and we have gelled really well. I just can't wait for the season to start in April at the Long Beach Grand Prix and I am thrilled to represent a professional racing team like Pacific Coast Motorsports."
Reference Here>>

After the ceremonies, the crowd milled around and fans, friends, and family of the event we able to enjoy a little conversation. The gathering outside adjourned to a private party hosted by Pacific Coast Motorsports up on the second level of the Hard Rock Café. Food and conversation were in plentiful supply and the building buzzed of the upcoming first of the season tests that are to be held in Sebring, Florida beginning this weekend. Team members were anxious to get the cars in the transport truck, drive them across the country and get this 2008 season started.

Great success to Team Pacific Coast Motorsports, may you all wage a campaign of epic scale … one worthy of a Hollywood debut!

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks/The EDJE

See you all the next time you are in the neighborhood at the 2008 running of the Long Beach Grand Prix. We will hop in the car and drive to the MTA station parking lot at the bottom of the hill ...

… notes from The EDJE.