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2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]

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Jonathon Ramsey

Race Recap: 2014 German Grand Prix is relapse and recovery

Posted Jul 21st 2014 8:00PM



The 2014 German Formula 1 Grand Prix is the hump-day race in the season and the penultimate chance for drivers and teams to rack up points before the summer break. Trying to stay on top after his first DNF of the year at the British Grand Prix, Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg didn't have to wait until the race for misfortune to find Lewis Hamilton; his British teammate crashed out of the Q2 qualifying session due to a brake failure, then had to change his gearbox due of the crash, a calamity that left him starting 20th on the grid.

Rosberg took pole ahead of the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, with Kevin Magnussen surprising everyone with a fourth place in his McLaren. Daniel Ricciardo put the first Infiniti Red Bull Racing in fifth, ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari pilot Fernando Alonso, Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat, the Force India pair of Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez finishing the top ten.

In a replay of events in Britain but with a German accent, a first-lap incident brought out the Safety Car and the same Brazilian was taken out of the race.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AP Photo | Getty/AFP, AOL

2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Ultimate Edition

Posted Jul 11th 2014 12:00PM

2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Ultimate Edition

Introduced at the end of 2006, this is the last year for the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the reincarnated FJ40-series Land Cruiser that will shortly journey to Takama-ga-hara, the Plain of High Heaven. In its first model year, we drove it to SEMA and found it, shall we say, coarse. It bobbled on the freeway and droned in the cabin, its boxy interior providing four bounce-boards for unpleasant frequencies. Tall mirrors helped one work around the eclipse of vision aft of the B-pillars, but navigating traffic required forethought and technique. Its turning circle was measured in kilometres. For the first two years of its life, it needed premium gas. It may have been fun to look at, but we couldn't wait to get out of it.

That's not the case anymore, and now the FJ Cruiser is poised to join a long list of vehicles that got better and better, then got axed... READ MORE

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

2014 Hyundai i40 Tourer

Posted Jul 9th 2014 12:00PM

2014 Hyundai i40 Tourer

Recently, we took a vacation to Australia, because sometimes we have to get away from all of that other travel and good living that we withstand in order to bring you the latest car news. While there, we grabbed the keys to a Hyundai i40 Tourer, essentially the Sonata wagon we never got a chance to love here.

Even though it didn't have a manual transmission, it did have a diesel and, for reasons beyond that oil-burner, our enduring affections. No, this story will not include another plea for Hyundai to bring it to North America - it likely wouldn't stand a chance against our crossover- and size-crazed mania, but it's a brilliant fit for markets that appreciate tidy haulers... READ MORE

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Race Recap: 2014 British F1 Grand Prix readjusts the balance of power

Posted Jul 7th 2014 11:30AM



Qualifying for the British Formula One Grand Prix was just as much a surprise for fans as it was for teams. Certain team weather radar displays didn't accurately pinpoint storm systems over the track, and in the case of at least two teams, the lack of data was compounded by poor decision making. That's how both Ferraris and both Williams got kicked out of qualifying in Q3 – the drivers already on track took advantage of a dry spell between rains, but Ferrari and Williams waited too long to get back out, and by the time they did it had started raining again.

Rain-induced bewilderment hit the front of the field as well. When all appeared resolved in Q3 but the clock hadn't yet run down to zero, drivers including Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo pulled into the pits thinking the day was done. However, a drying last sector of the Silverstone circuit meant the drivers still out could suddenly improve their times by four seconds in just that sector. When the bell tolled, those who fought to the last were those who lined up first: Nico Rosberg in the first Mercedes AMG Petronas, Sebastian Vettel in the first Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Jenson Button in the McLaren, Nico Hülkenberg in the first Force India and Kevin Magnussen in the second McLaren.

Hamilton had fallen all the way to sixth on the grid, a mortifying blow to his race and his championship challenge. He was followed by Sergio Perez in the second Force India, Ricciardo in the second Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso teammates Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne completing the top ten.

When the green lights went out, the weather stayed bright, but ill winds blew on track for some.

Image Credit: AP, Getty

2014 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline

Posted Jul 4th 2014 11:57AM

2014 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline

On a recent jaunt to Australia, we got behind the wheel of a Holden Commodore SS-V Redline. We've been looking forward to driving not a Holden, but the Holden, the Commodore, ever since we visited Australia for the first time in 1994 and saw a Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) Commodore parked like a magazine-spread model in a driveway next to a house on a bluff. It was an indifferent, unavailable and previously unknown exotic.

We pledged the fraternity at the very top, pulling out of the lot at Sutton Holden in Arncliffe in a Commodore SS-V Redline. Easy to confuse for the Chevrolet SS, this is not the Australian export sold in the USA. The Holden range comes in eight flavours, the SS-V Redline the uppermost branch on the sports-oriented side of the family tree that employs the LS2 6.0-litre V8 dedicated to Holden's performance models. The only-available-in-America Chevrolet SS is from the HSV tribe, all of its tautly strung warriors using the LS3 6.2-litre V8. The Holden's 6.0-litre puts out 362 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, wheres the SS' 6.2-litre serves up 425 hp and 420 lb-ft.

The SS-V Redline is said to be "the first properly track-developed car to wear a Holden [not an HSV] badge," and ours had a slice of heaven between the front seats: a six-speed manual transmission. According to Aussie auto journos, the SS-V Redline is "the first Holden that can truly approach HSV offerings," and we couldn't wait to find out what that meant. When we drove straight from the dealer to pick up an Australian friend and she asked, "Is this your big beefy car?" we answered with pride, "Why yes, yes it is." READ MORE

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Race Recap: 2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Posted Jul 2nd 2014 11:59AM

2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The weather didn't interrupt the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year, the sun staying out to shine throughout a mildly cloudy day. The crowds didn't interrupt the race, either. Last year there were incidents like the woman who leaned so far into the road that her camera tore a hole in a speeding Shelby Cobra and she had to be sent to the hospital. This year the organizers shrank the number of spectator viewing areas and put others behind fences, such that long stretches of the route were uninhabited by anything other than varmints.

The only unexpected visitor was a dusty track and what some competitors said were slightly higher temperatures that changed the amount of grip and increased times. Yet the calm let a couple of teams, like that sun, break through the clouds of past misfortune and claim victories they'd been targeting for years.

Bobby Goodin dies following horrific motorcycle accident at Pikes Peak

Posted Jun 30th 2014 10:59AM

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The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb endured early tragedy yesterday, when 54-year-old motorcycle competitor Bobby Goodin crashed after crossing the finish line at the peak.

When we arrived at the summit, we spoke to a couple of photographers and riders who had seen the accident. It seems Goodin crossed the line and was still going at a decent clip when he raised his hand to celebrate making it to the top. He lost the front end on the unpaved section at the top and the bike veered right, launching Goodin over the edge, flipping him end-over-end into a patch of boulders.

When EMTs reached him he was unconscious, so they they performed CPR until he was medevac'ed an hour later to Penrose Hospital. This was Goodin's second time competing, the Flower Mound, Texas native riding a Triumph 675R in the Middleweight class. He competed last year on an Aprilia, seen above.

Sadly, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that Goodin has succumbed to his injuries, marking the fifth time someone has died at the Pikes Peak hill climb, the last being in 2005. Our thoughts go out to Goodin's friends and family.

2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Final Practice Day 4 and pre-race notes

Posted Jun 29th 2014 8:30PM

2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The running order has been established for the 92nd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for all classes and everyone's had all the practice they're going to get. On Sunday, June 29, the 14,110-foot-high mountain will ask each of them, "Who wants some?" Unlike previous years, while the bikes will run according to class, the cars will run according to their qualifying times set on the bottom section of the course, regardless of division, the fastest guys going first.

That puts Romain Dumas at the head of the 67 car entries, having set a time of 3:37.525 in his Norma M20 RD in the Unlimited Class, but the next Unlimited entry doesn't appear until sixth, Piero Nappi in his Picchio P4 pp with a time of 4:03.357. In between them, the two Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution IIIs start second and third in the Electric Modified class, that first one driven by Greg Tracy 11 seconds behind Dumas. Then comes Monster Tajima is his E-Runner Pikes Peak Special, then Paul Dallenbach leading the Open Wheel class, four positions ahead of the next Open Wheel competitor.

Leaders in the other classes: Michael Skeen driving a Nissan GT-R in the Open class in seventh, 12 positions ahead of the next class entrant; Jeff Zwart in eighth, driving a Porsche 911, will be the first in Time Attack 1, his competition starting right behind him; Robert Prillka in 21st is the first Time Attack 2 entry in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, three positions ahead of the next entry; in 23rd is Christopher Lennon in his 1973 Porsche 911 in the Vintage class, the next Vintage entry in 37th; the first Exhibition entrant is Donald Huffman in a Radical RXC in 50th, four positions ahead of the next in-class competition; and representing for Electric Production is Roy Richards in a Honda Fit EV.

Pikes Peak organizers streamed the event, but it required a paid subscription to watch: $3.95 for one hour of viewing, $9.95 for three hours, $19.95 for unlimited watching and $100 for unlimited viewing and an official program. That feed also contained a cache of archival Pikes Peak footage and interviews. The site BoldRide says it is livestreaming the whole race in partnership with Erix Audio, and that appears to be free. If you kept up with the feed, you'll have found Autoblog behind the wheel of Car #0, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, driving the parade lap up the mountain to open the race for the car divisions.

For a few more tidbits on the race and the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III, keep reading below.

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Image Credit: Copyright: Drew Phillips

2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Practice Day 3

Posted Jun 27th 2014 3:00PM

2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Greg Tracy's MiEV Evolution III topped the time sheets almost 14 seconds ahead of third-place Monster Tajima.

On Thursday, qualifying times for six categories were set on the bottom-section switchbacks of Pikes Peak: Electric Modified - near-unlimited showcases of electric-vehicle engineering; Electric Production - electric vehicles "readily available to the public;" Open Wheel - single engine, open wheeled, open cockpit, single seat vehicles; Open - based upon a production or approved-aftermarket-replica vehicle; Exhibition - a prototype or pre-production vehicle limited to one year of eligibility in this class; and Vintage - vehicles and drivelines from 1990 or earlier.

The big story was Greg Tracy in his MiEV Evolution III topping the time sheets almost 14 seconds ahead of third-placed Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima, with the second MiEV Evolution III driven by Hiroshi Masuoka about three seconds behind Tracy. The Mitsus also lined up in the first two positions last year with Monster Tajima in third, but Monster was only two seconds behind Tracy in 2013. The times don't mean anything to the mountain, though; everyone expected Mitsubishi to win last year, but rain during their run slowed them and Monster Tajima took the crown.

Roy Richards took pole in Electric Production Class in a 2012 Honda Fit EV, Michael Skeen is atop the Open Class in a 2009 Nissan GT-R, Donald Hoffman leads the Exhibition Class in a Radical RXC and Christopher Lennon is ahead of all the Exhibition runners in a 1973 Porsche 911.

The Open Wheel Class is led by none other than Paul Dallenbach, with three overall wins on Pikes Peak and four more class wins. Dallenbach set a new record in the Time Attack Class last year in a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and a Production Car World Record in a 2014 Range Rover Sport. This year he's driving a 750-horsepower Dallenbach PV03 that his brother Wally Dallenbach, Jr. used to win the class in 2006 and that Paul drove to a win at the Goodwood Festival in 2007.

In other news, Mike Ryan suffered a big accident in his popular Unlimited-Class Freightliner semi truck, with the rig damaged beyond repair for this year's event. Ryan may yet make a run up the mountain for time, but he'd be doing so on something much smaller – his Triumph motorcycle.

Enjoy the high-res gallery of photos from yesterday's runs, and we'll be back later with the results of today's qualifying.

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