He would’ve been 53 today.
Happy birthday to the greatest of all time.
What do automotive manufacturers have against the manual gearbox? It has been a fight to the death (quite literally) for years and I still can’t wrap my head around the reality that my kids will never learn how to use a clutch pedal. I suppose it’s part of a larger issue that stretches well beyond our cars and to our innate desire to live an automated lifestyle. Why should a human being have to perform a task that can be done by a machine? Why learn to write cursive when you can type on a keyboard? Why type on a keyboard when you can use a voice command? Seem my point? The human race seems to be moving in a direction where “do it yourself” does not compute.
Automation is intended to make our lives easier, free our minds from the menial tasks that once dominated countless hours of our days. Yet in 2013 people have more friends on the Internet than they do in real life and more are diagnosed with depression than ever before. Our collective unhappiness boils down to the simple fact that our desire to create, our desire to accomplish something isn’t being utilized because technology does it for us. As highly social and intelligent beings, it is our job to create, to do tasks and to be active members of the physical world that surrounds us.
Driving a car used to be a highly physical experience. It required practice, skill and depended on the driver to be the least bit coordinated. The act of pushing in a clutch pedal and shifting a gear stick is a physical experience, but in this world of automation it’s been deemed unnecessary. We’ve all known this evolution in the way we drive our cars has been coming, but today’s announcement that Porsche would not be putting a manual gearbox in their upcoming GT3 RS, further cements the reality. While recent 911s were merely a shell of their spirited predecessors, they were one of the last high end sports cars to offer a full driving experience with a manual gearbox. In some ways it made them a bit more special than their peers. However the new model will continue with the same electronic steering that’s infected all 991s and the addition of a PDK.
Sure some will be quick to mention the GT-R and how the immediate power delivery and phenomenal handling, fill the void left by the absence a manual. But at what point will the automation end? At what point is the driver no longer part of the equation? Formula 1 has had the technology to race cars without drivers for years. Google has designed a car that doesn’t need your help. But do we really want that reality? Formula 1 implemented regulations that kept the focus on act of driving because what is a sport without the human element? With no mental or physical challenge can it even be considered sport?
There’s a reason we tune into all 58 laps of a Formula 1 Grand Prix, pay our hard earned money to watch Kobe Bryant play LeBron James and still see more live action films than anything with a digital cast. It’s because of our demand for the human element of sports and entertainment. It’s something we can relate to and it’s the one thing we all have in common. Surely we’d want to keep that human element as part of our daily lives as well? Surely we find satisfaction in cooking dinner from scratch, drawing a picture or properly driving a car?
We live in a generation of new equals better, but is that really the case? I’m not so sure.
March is one of my favorite times of the year and for good reason, Formula 1 finally returns this weekend! The Australian Grand Prix is just days away and my excitement for the 2013 season opener is barely containable. For American fans of the sport, this year also marks the new broadcast home for Formula 1 on NBC Sports.
The move to NBC was met with some initial questions. Who would make up the broadcast team? Would the races air live? Would NBC take the sport as seriously as its European counterparts? Luckily any negative speculation has been put to rest and Formula 1 is clearly in good hands in the US.
SPEED had its moments of brilliance, but that was mainly down to a solid broadcast team of Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Will Buxton. Fortunately, most of the team have moved over to NBC, so we can expect a similar level of entertainment and insight. SPEED consistently failed with its inability to produce a high quality product. Its almost comedic approach to event coverage and second rate production value left many fans (myself included) clamoring for the UK to extend special Sky Sports and BBC coverage across The Pond. The 5 races a year that aired on SPEED’s parent network FOX, only made matters worse. Bewildering race intros and ABC-level technical explanations were an unfortunate side effect of broadcasting to one of the sport’s smallest global audiences.
For decades Formula 1 has failed to capture a large audience in the US. How the sport has been presented to Americans is much to blame. NBC has obviously taken that into consideration and following the network’s first Countdown to F1 broadcast, it’s apparent that they’re taking things seriously. A new studio, formal attire for the presenters and a big-budget level of production is more suited to the sport’s elite presence.
With their first weekend of race coverage just days away, I’m very optimistic about what’s to come. With live practice, qualifying and race coverage, plus a post-race show and more in depth behind the scenes access to the sport, American fans are in good hands. It’s going to be another fantastic Formula 1 season and we can all be excited the sport has found the US broadcast home it so deserves.
Video courtesy of NBC Sports.
Formula 1 geeks like myself have spent countless hours on YouTube reliving the glory days of the sport. I’m of the opinion that the 80′s were Formula 1′s greatest decade. They saw a massive shift in the sport as more sponsors became involved and it entered the World stage. The 80′s produced a dizzying array of talent with drivers becoming international celebrities. Despite all of this, Formula 1 was great in the 80′s for one important reason; it was the peak of the turbo era.
The turbo era produced many astonishing machines but none quite like the McLaren MP4/4. In my mind it’s the greatest Formula 1 car of all time. Its Honda RA168-E V6 was capable of over 1000 HP and in the hands of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, won 15 races in 1988.
Despite its legendary history, the MP4/4 remains a recluse these days.
It’s a rarity to see the MP4/4 stretching its legs on the track. I was encouraged to see Lewis Hamilton take Senna’s old car for a spin on Top Gear a few years ago. The chance to see one of the sport’s current World Champions take the reigns of such a fantastic machine was an exciting prospect. However, disappointment set in when the segment’s soundtrack overpowered the car’s bellowing V6 twin-turbo. I often find that the biggest complaint from YouTube viewers is that the engine sound isn’t a high enough priority in car videos.
I was encouraged to come across this video of the MP4/4 at Motegi last July.
With HD footage and good sound quality, it’s not to be missed. The first few minutes get off to a slow start but once the car is warmed up, it’s pure engine pornography. Turn your speakers up to 11.
This MP4/4 was probably running a more conservative tune compared to it’s days at Monaco. Regardless, the video gives us a taste of what the car would’ve sounded like at WOT. I think it’s automotive bliss.
As a new season of Formula 1 gets underway in a couple weeks, it marks the final appearance of V8s in the sport. The new technical regulations of 2014 will see Formula 1 enter its second turbo era. While the new cars will hardly capture the ferocity of their ancestors, it’ll be nice to see Formula 1 using turbos again. I don’t think I’m alone in saying how eager I am to hear to 2014 cars. Internal wastegates will keep the noise levels down significantly, but the rumor is that they will sound great. I suppose we’ll have our answer a year from now. In the meantime, the MP4/4′s legacy lives on.
Video courtesy of Deckay.
The Geneva Motor Show is in full swing and today was the highly anticipated debut of Ferrari’s Enzo successor. Simply named LaFerrari, it will most certainly revolutionize the way we think about hyper cars. Many people have gotten hung up on the name and while not brilliant, it’s hardly a reason to dislike what is an astonishing piece of engineering.
The Ferrari DNA is present throughout with subtle hints to the 458 Italia and the P4/5.
Like the name, LaFerrari’s looks have been met with mixed reviews. I think it’s a fantastically good looking piece of design and far exceeds the Enzo.
Many of you have probably had the chance to soak in all of the content released throughout the day. In case you’ve missed it, here are some of the more interesting details about the car.
While KERS and active aero are technologies we’ve become familiar with in motor sports, they’ve rarely been used on production cars. It’s a trend that’s gaining momentum in the automotive industry and is fast becoming the new norm for high performance road cars.
There’s no mistaking that LaFerrari has Formula 1 to thank for it’s technical contributions to the project. While many will argue that the sport has little influence on production cars, that certainly is not the case here. Ferrari, McLaren, Pagani and Porsche are ushering in a new era of what’s technically possible.
Now we can all look forward to the inevitable LaFerrari-P1 comparison test.
Photos & videos courtesy of Ferrari.
It’s impossible not to be impressed by alcoolaid’s 2007 STi. It’s another build I’ve been following for a number and years and like so many Subarus on A Class, this car has seen quite an evolution.
For most the experience of modifying a street car can be plenty rewarding. However making the jump to building a track car is another level entirely. It’s a point when every detail truly comes into consideration, with function being of the upmost importance. Luckily what’s functional can also be beautiful and this STi is no exception.
To summarize this build into a few short sentences would be doing the car and its owner a disservice. If you’re interested in everything that’s gone into alcoolaid’s STi, be sure to check out his build thread.
There’s also a YouTube channel with plenty of videos of the car in action both on the street and at the track.
A special thanks to Matt Kwok, an automotive photographer based in Canada. I’ve featured his work with Subarus a number of times over the years and he’s certainly got a great eye for photography. Matt takes pictures of all kinds of cars, so make sure to check out his website.
While this STi looks fantastic, the best part about this car is the fact that it gets driven! I know so many car guys who build amazing creations, only to leave them in the protected confines of their garages. Cars like these are most definitely meant to be enjoyed.
Photos courtesy of Matt Kwok.
The McLaren P1. Just look at the thing.
The hyper car battle of 2013 is shaping up to be a good one. In a beauty contest the P1 edges just ahead of Porsche’s upcoming 918. Although I have my suspicions that Ferrari is going to come in and blow everyone away.
While McLaren has been fairly transparent and given us all lots of access to media and information regarding the P1, Ferrari have been quietly working away in Maranello. Aside from some performance figures and other carefully released details, not much is known about the upcoming F150, primarily what it will look like. That will all change in March at the Geneva Motor Show.
In the meantime enjoy the excellent P1.
Photos courtesy of McLaren.
For many sports it’s possible to go pro after starting from a middle school to even a high school level. The same can’t necessarily be said about motor racing. Racing is unique in the fact that the parents in most cases need to make the decision before their kids are old enough to decide for themselves. Dylan Murry is 12-years-old and reminds me of more than one of Formula 1′s many World Champions.
I don’t suspect this is the last time we’ll see Dylan doing amazing things behind the wheel of a race car.
Video courtesy of DRIVE.
UK Impreza owners have always had a special eye for tuning. The popularity of rallying and motor sports in general has had a heavy influence on the way they style their cars. It’s an approach I wish we saw more of in the US.
Frayz’s V7 STi has been around for as long as I can remember and the car has gone through a pretty extensive rebuild in the last couple of years. I’d recommend checking out his build thread if you have time.
The execution of this Impreza is something pretty special. No aspect of the car has been left untouched and the attention to detail immense. In many respects the car alludes to some of the special edition Impreza models we’ve seen from shops like Prodrive.
While many criticize the organized chaos that is a Suabru engine bay, there is beauty to be found here. The careful color coordination and selection of only the finest parts speaks to this car’s purpose of blending high performance with ultimate streetability.
The same philosophy holds true in the interior.
Anyone can build a car that looks great sitting in their garage. It’s a different story entirely to build something that not only looks great but can also take whatever abuse its owner throws at it.
Photos courtesy of Frayz.