Last week I mentioned that the US GP of a few years back
started with six cars only and was a farce. However one year the 24 Hours of Le
Mans started with only 17 cars. I asked, what year was that? It was 1930.
So to this week. Which driver repaired his broken chassis
with wood from his hotel furniture in the Paris-Vienna race, finishing 12th
with no clutch, no exhaust pipe and only one gear? Clue: 1902.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
Porsche’s Cayenne goes green
and it’s not the paint
Porsche’s first hybrid – the Cayenne S Hybrid luxury SUV –
will be the second most expensive model in the range, although well short of the
The lean and green hybrid SUV, which returns a European
combined fuel consumption cycle of 8.2 liters per 100 km will not be the most
expensive hybrid on the market. That honor goes to the Lexus LS600hL four-seater.
The Cayenne’s new parallel hybrid system combines an Audi-sourced
245 kW supercharged 3.0 liter petrol V6 with a 34 kW electric motor for a
maximum output of 279 kW and 580 Nm.
Porsche claims this drivetrain – which will also appear in
the upcoming Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid and, most likely, the next Audi Q7 range
– can deliver the economy of a six-cylinder with the performance of a V8. The
Porsche features kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) technology developed by
the Williams Formula 1 team. Braking energy is stored and can be used to drive a
pair of electric motors mated to the front wheels of the all-wheel-drive car.
A new eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox is among the improvements
in the re-worked range.
The Korean Grand Prix –
this year or next?
To site a Grand Prix circuit in a country with absolutely no
F1 history sounds more than a little peculiar. Yet, Bernie E and the boys
jubilantly stated there will be a Korean GP in October this year.
Last year’s end we saw the inaugural Yas Marina circuit in
Abu Dhabi, now christened the ‘Yawn Marina’ despite its hotel which changes
color. Though the venue might have been awe inspiring, the circuit itself was
anything but, being another of the predictable Hermann Tilke ‘line up in order
and don’t pass’ circuits. When will F1, the FIA and Bernie E ever learn?
However, Bernie E has countries knocking on his door wanting
to host a round of the F1 championship because those countries think this
elevates them above their station in the eyes of the world. And they pay heavily
for that right, into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For the Abu Dhabi
track, the cost was in the vicinity of $400 million. And how much to the
‘Commercial Rights Holder’ (Bernie)? And the country has no hope of recouping
that figure. Neither now nor in the future.
Of interest is the fact that Korea co-hosted the 2002
football world cup and lost money on the biggest spectator sport in the world.
This new venture with the third biggest spectator sport in the world will go the
The South Koreans were not daunted, as the Korea Auto Valley
Operation (KAVO) chief Chung Yung-Cho said, “Construction is half-completed. We
will do our best to build a ‘speed mecca’ both in name and reality when the
track opens in July 2010.”
However, comes the news this week that there have been
delays, and now it looks as if the new Korean track may not be ready for
October, but may have to be held over until 2011.
The delays are not the only problem. Its location is also
remote from the capital, where the majority of Koreans live. Will they travel
320 km to an event in which the country has no constructors or drivers? The
answer is most likely in the negative.
South Korea believes that by having this F1 circuit, it will
show to the world that it is the third largest economy in Asia. Korea also is
known worldwide for its involvement with cars. Korean car companies such as
Hyundai and Daewoo are huge exporters of cars worldwide and Korean people
themselves, traditionally always embrace the opportunity to host worldwide
sports events. South Korea has also held the Olympics and is seeking in the
future to hold the winter Olympics. However, there is no F1 Hyundai or Daewoo.
And it looks as if there won’t be a Korean GP this year either.
You may have seen this, but it is worth repeating in a
For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after
81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully
sued the McDonald’s in New Mexico, where she purchased the coffee. She took the
lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would
ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That’s right; these are
awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the
kinds of cases that make you scratch your head in disbelief. So keep your head
This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs.
Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home.
On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the
freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat
to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly,
the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly,
Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she
couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The
Oklahoma jury awarded her $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually
changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has
any relatives who might also buy one.
Are we, as a society, getting more stupid?