Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oval gauntlet necessary/mandatory in Verizon IndyCar Series

Iowa Corn Indy 300 Podium: L to R - Josef Newgarden P2, Ryan Hunter-Reay P1, Tony Kanaan P3. Andretti Autosport made the call to put on a new set of tires on Ryan Hunter-Reay's car and with 10 laps left, sitting at P10, passed everyone in front of him to win. Image Credit: Andretti Autosport

 Oval gauntlet necessary/mandatory in Verizon IndyCar Series

To many fans of American open-wheel racing, the entertaining draw of a street course event weekend is the venue that had been created converting an everyday urban environment into a racetrack, followed by a weekend festival of cultural events (motor and otherwise), and consistency on the timing on an annual basis that adds to the cultural experience. Everyone enjoys something to look forward to on a "same time next year" basis.

In Los Angeles, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has been a success for 40 years and it has done so observing and deepening the above formula elements regardless of which sanctioned racing series was to headline the actual Grand Prix competition test that was to take place on Sunday afternoon.

What American open-wheel racing has yet to perfect is to answer the event draw question, how does one replicate the success of a Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach event weekend at an established oval racing venue and assure fan interest while being able to fill the stands that are a permanent part of the established track experience?

If the question could be answered through the nature of the racing competition itself, the races held at Texas Motor Speedway, Pocono, and last weekend's small and tight oval race in Newton, Iowa ... the problem would be already solved. The competition could not be any more unpredictable or professional. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series is even attracting drivers/rookies that have beat some of the best drivers in European professional racing of F1 and DTM on the way to perfecting their craft.

This still does not explain, then, why the attendance for these type of racing venues (outside of the Indy 500) is down from their pinnacle of standing-room only to a mere fraction - ranging from 30% to 60% fall off.

American open-wheel racing needs to be able to showcase all forms of racing from all of the venues it has performed through the decades because, besides racing that includes Yellow Flag caution periods and planned pitstops, it is the breadth of racing venue experience (road/temporary street courses, super-speedway oval/tri-oval, banked oval, small bullring oval) that separates the American experience from all other series of open-wheel racing.

Iowa Speedway during the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn Indy 300. Image Credit: Iowa Corn

This excerpted and edited from Racer -

Why IndyCar must make ovals work
By Robin Miller - Racer - Sunday, 13 July 2014

The dichotomy was front and center Saturday night at Iowa Speedway: great racing with another disappointing fan turnout.

That's the sad but true tale of oval tracks in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Once the pillar of the most popular form of motorsports in this country when USAC and CART were on top, ovals have become an endangered species. Other than Indianapolis, it's tough to draw anything resembling a crowd.

Texas Motor Speedway, once a stronghold that put 75,000-80,000 people in the stands to watch the Indy Racing League's version of Russian Roulette, has been sliding recently and withered down to 25,000 (at best) last month. After an encouraging return of an estimated 25,000 in 2013 following a 24-year absence, Pocono slumped to maybe 15,000 a couple weeks ago. Iowa, which packed the grandstands the first few races for IndyCar, looked about half full last Saturday evening. Fontana, a big ticket back in the late '90s when CART was cooking, went away after embarrassing crowd numbers for its IRL races and has struggled since returning to the schedule three years ago. Ticket sales are supposedly down for next month's finale.
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And the conundrum for Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles and IndyCar is that it needs ovals to retain its heritage, maintain its status as the most diverse series in the world and remind people why many of them fell for Indy car racing.
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Michael Andretti, who stepped in to rescue The Milwaukee Mile, echoes The Captain's thoughts. "We can't ever stop running ovals," said the former CART champion who was a badass on the short ones as well as superspeedways. "It's what sets us apart from everybody else."

So what's happened to the culture that thrilled us with A.J., Parnelli, Mario, Ruby, Rutherford, Johncock, Mears and the Unsers? Why doesn't anybody care to attend anymore? What needs to change?

First and foremost, the oval-track model for IndyCar isn't working and hasn't for quite some time. Two-day shows are a waste of time and money for teams and promoters alike.
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Other than Indy, every oval needs to be one day – practice, qualify and race just like the old days and besides saving money, it ramps up the intensity and maybe draws more interest. Pocono's Brandon Igdalsky, for instance, said he had no problem with that concept.

Secondly, ovals have got to change their approach. Texas, Pocono and Iowa had nothing on track except the Honda 2-seater and pace car rides prior to their IndyCar races. They've got to start giving the paying customers a lot more for their money – a la street races and road courses. There is always something going on at Long Beach, Detroit, Barber, Mid-Ohio, St. Pete and Toronto, be it Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, drifting, TUDOR sports cars, Pirelli World Challenge or Robby Gordon's truck series.
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You can't start a race at 3 p.m. and give the fans NOTHING beforehand. That's ignorant and arrogant.

Scheduling also needs a makeover and some common sense. You can't run Fontana on Labor Day when it's 100 degrees at 6 p.m., Pocono wants off July 4th if it sticks around and Milwaukee needs to be re-instated to the week after the Indianapolis 500.
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But there is one oval interested in giving IndyCar another shot. Curtis Francois, who owns Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., wants to talk to Miles about a date and maybe a potential partnership. And that may be the key and answer to keeping ovals on the schedule. Instead of charging a sanction fee that scares potential tracks away or puts them instantly in the red, IndyCar might need to be partners with the five ovals still in play. Share expenses and promotion and tap into Verizon's wealth of available assets to control your destiny and take the message to the people.
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A good example: there wasn't ONE LINE about the IndyCar race in last Thursday's Des Moines Register – 48 hours before the green flag (and that paper does a nice job of covering the race). Last April, nothing in Thursday's editions of the Los Angeles Times about the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and only one TV station mentioned the race on Saturday night...with polesitter Ryan Hunter REEAHAY. Fans from Philadelphia swore there was nothing about the Pocono 500 in their market.

Of course the tracks have to help shoulder the load but if IndyCar was 50-50 partners in selling tickets, marketing and promoting the event it could make a difference – especially with Verizon on board. IndyCar needs to go Barnum & Bailey and pull out all the stops to try and save the ovals.

Watching the non-stop wheel-to-wheel action at Iowa and listening to the excitement in Paul Tracy's voice in the NBCSN booth reinforced how vibrant a short track IndyCar race can be and how vital that little oval in the Corn Belt is to this series.

"Before I passed all those cars at the end, it had been a helluva night of racing people all over the track," said 2014 Indy 500 winner RHR following his 10th-to-first miracle Saturday night. "It's fast, it's close and it's what IndyCar racing is all about. We can't ever lose places like this."
[Reference Here]

Improve the formula which services established oval track venues by offering MORE in a shorter period of time for each event capitalizes on what is common to most motor culture events (racing, or otherwise) ... overload.

Just as with Autoweek in mid-August held at the mouth of the Salinas Valley in California ... Concours de Elegance, Pebble Beach and the Rolex Motorsports Reunion, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ... expand the  points of interest of fan draw at the venue to where no one person could take in all of the event. No excuse to NOT attend should be the available prescription to the motor culture fan.

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, June 30, 2014

Two race weekend at Grand Prix of Houston delivers high octane fan results

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Tony Kanaan, driving the No. 10 DW12 car that Dario Franchitti drove to injury last year, leads a large group of cars at the beginning of Race 2/Round 10 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Image Credit: Richard Dowdy via IndyCar.com (2014)

Two race weekend at Grand Prix of Houston delivers high octane fan results

The assumption in most high-level professional exotic open-wheel automobile racing is that one has to qualify their car faster than anyone in order to achieve a good result. The well funded multiple car super teams always are able to out perform and dominate because once the favorable top order starting positions are filled, the race can feature great control with little passing and the wins and points all go to the best qualifiers.

At the 2014 Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston this template was thrown out of the window save the points garnered for the season's championship race.

The two race weekend highlighted everything that is great about American open-wheel racing and did this under all weather conditions. Rookies, relatives, and relocation drivers were the stars while drivers of the so-called super teams of Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti were pushed aside (figuratively and literally) of the limelight at race's end of Race 1/Round 9 on Saturday and Race 2/Round 10 on Sunday to deliver the most entertaining weekend of any racing series in this world in recent memory.

Penske Racing's Juan Pablo Montoya - P2, Dale Coyne Racing's Carlos Huertas - P1, and Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz - P3 celebrate a first time all Colombian driver IndyCar podium achieved on Race 1/Round 9at the Grand Prix of Houston. Image Credit: Andretti Autosport (2014)

Race 1/Round 9 - Three Drivers From Colombia On Podium

At the halfway point in the Verizon IndyCar Season, one would like a bit of clarity from season points leaders after the strength of the last three races shown by Penske Racing, but none was coming at the 2014 Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston [Twitter idents: @MtrsprtsJournal @TheEDJE #IndyCar #GPHOU].

Through the previous practice sessions, Will Power showed that he had the stuff to tame the track. He ended up with the second fastest lap time just behind Schmidt Peterson Motorsports standout Simon Pagenaud.

When it came to the three dry weather knock-out qualification sessions for the Firestone Fast 6, however, season points leader Power could not advance out of Group 2 to the top 12. As for Simon Pagenaud, he was able to grab his first ever pole award in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Power, starting from deep in the field at P18 of 23 cars, stated the blame was his fault on the dictated set up of the car ... “Definitely not starting where we would like to be but we just have to go out there and see what happens and hope the Chevy can make its way to the front,” Power said. "It's a much more difficult track to come from the back, but in IndyCar races anything can happen."

When it came to race time, rain had Race Control declare a Wet Start ... and soon after the Dallara DW12's roll out on the improved temporary parking lot/street track to warm-up for the planned standing start, the race was further declared a timed event at one-hour and fifty minutes (1:50.000).

Temporary street course (mostly parking lot and run counter-clockwise) layout for the 2014 Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Image Credit: Pensky Racing (2014)

This excerpted and edited from For The Love Of Indy -

First Impressions: Houston 2014 Race One
Saturday, June 28, 2014

1. I thought I was more likely to win an IndyCar race this season than Carlos Huertas. Nine races and he is an IndyCar winner. A guy who's lone victory in Formula Renault 3.5 came in a monsoon. A guy who was rumored to be the sugar daddy savior for Panther Racing over the winter and now he was more wins this season than the four Ganassi drivers combined. It may takes me six months to wrap my head around this victory.

2. And Colombians finished 1-2-3 with Juan Pablo Montoya and Carlos Muñoz rounding out the podium. They used strategy to perfection in this timed race. They stopped at the right time when they knew they could make it to the end while the leaders stayed out. Not to mention Colombia advancing to the quarterfinals in the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Uruguay. They will play Brazil on the 4th of July while these three go at it again tomorrow.

3. Graham Rahal had a day that started out from hell, appeared to made it out alive, only to be dragged right back down after getting into the back of Tony Kanaan before going green. What else could go wrong for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing? Luca Filippi was running well before slapping the wall on a restart due to cold tires. They can make it all up tomorrow but it will be difficult to recover from the way today ended.

4. Any other day and Sébastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Jack Hawksworth, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Hélio Castroneves are the top six. Andretti of all people probably had the race of the day. From being spun by his teammate Muñoz to being black flagged for running competitive laps to then leader Takuma Sato and the Japanese driver failing to get by the American to recovering and being one of the half dozen caught out on pit strategy. Keep your eyes on all six tomorrow.

5. Justin Wilson finished tenth (at least I think he will after Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe are assessed their penalties) and did 46 laps on one stint. Huertas did 39 laps to make it to the checkered flag. I don't know what Dale Coyne Racing did to their cars over the break but it appears to have worked. Great job by the whole team.

6. This was a day that appeared to be one where Castroneves, Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud could catch up on Will Power as he started eighteenth and was a non-factor all day before sliding into the tires, ending his run of completing every lap in 2014. But, with the likes of Pagenaud, Mike Conway, Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon, Luca Filippi and Takuma Sato having problems, Power finished fourteenth and only lost six points over Castroneves in the standings. Things are falling Power's way in 2014.

7. I hate to think that this race could have ended better. It was a timed race and I enjoyed it. They did the hour and fifty minutes like they said and I should take that. But after being so close to a green flag finish and having the Rahal-Kanaan contact deflate the balloon stinks. Who knows? Maybe Huertas would have won anyway but what could have been?

8. Tomorrow's race will be nothing like today's but what a race it was. My jaw is still on the floor. Everyone get some rest, rehydrate and we will dance again tomorrow. By the way, there are no Dutch, Mexican, Costa Rican or Greek drivers in the race, so no IndyCar/World Cup double like today.
[Reference Here]

Factoid:
Caution flag is out due to a spin and stall after catching a puddle by Will Power - Time Remaining in Race: 27:080. Power was the only driver to complete every lap in 8 races but with this spin, no more drivers will have "perfect attendance" in 2014.

Best Television Broadcast Quote:
With 11 minutes remaining, an Englishman (Justin Wilson) was being chased by four angry Colombians - Huertas, JPM, Kanaan and Munoz!

Note - Justin Wilson had to pit on Lap 74 for fuel ... so much for anger.

Commentary:
Car 8 - Ganassi's Ryan Briscoe and 15 - Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Graham Rahal received 30-second penalties for avoidable contact with Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan respectively.

Season Points leader Will Power escapes two very poor qualification sessions and two poor race finishes by leaving Races 9 and 10 of an 18 race season with the same points lead as he entered the weekend. Image Credit: Steve Swope via Penske Racing (2014)

Race 2/Round 10 - Non-Super Teams Sweep Podium (rookies secure 2 of 3 positions)

On Sunday, in a two session of Group A and Group B qualifications process where the drivers go out on track and pray for at least one clear lap in a few short minutes - about enough time for three laps after one out-lap - times posted are fanned into each other, every other position, starting from the fastest time from the group that this time was posted.

Example: Say Group B had the fastest overall time, so, P1=B, P2=A, P3=next fastest B, P4=next fastest A ... and so on, and so on.

Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves gained a point by winning the pole for today's race (3:45 p.m., NBCSN). Castroneves gained only six points on Power on Saturday when he finished ninth as Power finished 14th.

The pole is the 40th of the Brazilian's career, tying him with Penske Racing's team manager Rick Mears as being only five drivers to achieve or surpass this mark on IndyCar's all-time list.

Penske Racing team-mate Will Power, again qualified poorly and ended up with the same starting position as Race 1 - P18. His lead over Castroneves at the season's halfway point is 32 points.



 This excerpted and edited from Miami Hearld -

Pagenaud wins Race 2 in Houston
By SportsNetwork.com via Miami Hearld Open Wheel


In this 90-lap race, run in hot and humid conditions at Houston's NRG Park, Helio Castroneves from Team Penske started on the pole and led 47 of the first 48 laps, but Pagenaud overtook Castroneves for the top spot on lap 49. Pagenaud had led one circuit earlier during a round of green-flag pit stops.

Later on that same lap, Castroneves tried to catch Pagenaud but bumped into Sebastien Bourdais and then made contact with the wall near turn 6, ending his race.
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Castroneves wound up finishing 21st, as he lost an opportunity to narrow the points gap between him and leader Will Power, his teammate.

"When I lost the lead with Pagenaud, I was trying to pass him, but I had no idea [Bourdais] was there," Castroneves said. "When I'm attacking, I can't have eyes in the back of my head. It's absolutely ridiculous when the guy has to put the car over there. But anyway it's the rules of traffic...I'm upset because we had a great car. There were [42] laps to go, and I wasn't panicking. It is what it is, and I'll move on and see what happens."

Power started 18th for the second day in a row but had moved up to third before he sustained a broken rear suspension in the closing laps. He limped across the line in 11th. Power's point advantage over Castroneves is now 39, the same margin between the two entering the Houston doubleheader.

"We were in position for a good day, considering where we had qualified," Power said. "We were going to maximize our points, but we had a parts malfunction with two laps to go. We fought really hard all day with nothing to show for it."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan finished sixth through 10th, respectively.

One day after scoring his first career victory in IndyCar, rookie Carlos Huertas completed just two laps before he experienced an electrical issue, as he stalled on the track. Huertas finished last.
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Pagenaud went on to lead the final 42 laps and crossed the finish line 7.2622 seconds ahead of Aleshin. The Frenchman scored his first win of the season in the May 10 inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, held on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course.

In Saturday's rain-soaked Race 1 in Houston, Pagenaud started on the pole but ended up finishing six laps behind in 16th after he struggled with brake issues in the early going and then was involved in a multi-car crash during the mid-stages.

Simon Pagenaud owns the curb as he tracks around the parking lot temporary circuit during Race 2/Round 10 at the Grand Prix of Houston. Image Credit: GPUPDATE.net (2014)

"Awesome race," said Pagenaud, who won for the fourth time in his IndyCar career. "The car was just beautiful. Awesome braking. Awesome traction. Awesome grip. What else could you expect as a driver. That's why I was so disappointed yesterday."

Aleshin's race on Saturday ended on lap 33 when he made contact with Takuma Sato and crashed into the turn 6 barrier. The Russian finished last in the 23- car field.

"I can't really explain my feeling. I just have so much emotion," Aleshin said after his runner-up finish in Race 2. "I had a flat tire on my car in the last few laps. I was really lucky to finish, actually. I'm very happy. The team did am amazing job. I don't have enough English words to thank the team for that."
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Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports claimed its first ever 1-2 finish in the IndyCar Series in Sunday's Race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend doubleheader.

Simon Pagenaud captured his second win of the season, while his rookie teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, finished a career-best second.
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Rookie Jack Hawksworth earned his first career podium finish in IndyCar with a third-place run, while Charlie Kimball took the fourth spot. Bourdais suffered a broken front wing during his incident with Castroneves but rebounded for a fifth-place result.

[Reference Here]


Fan reaction to the weekend's action was over the top (sample tweets):







As stated before ... probably the best and most entertaining weekend of any racing series, in this world, in recent memory.

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, June 21, 2014

2nd Annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show

The invitation only Founders Reception unveiled the plans for the museum. It included some of Mr. Shelby’s collection followed by a presentation about the museum. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien - Motor Driven Images (2014)

2nd Annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show
Entry Written and Photography by: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

The weekend of May 17, 2014 was a big one for Carroll Shelby fans in the greater Los Angeles area. 

The single day event took place at the new home of the Carroll Shelby Automotive Museum at 19021 S. Figueora  Street, Gardena, California.  It featured at least one original example of the cars produced during the life of Carroll Shelby.   

The only models that appeared to be absent were the Toyota 2000 GT, and the Dodge powered Shelby’s. Did you realize that Shelby had a hand in these?

Mr. Shelby’s children, Pat and Mike Shelby, were in attendance, along with their spouses and children. They shared personal stories of their father. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien - Motor Driven Images (2014)

Featured speakers included the legendary Bob Bondurant who was a factory team driver and co-drove with Dan Gurney  the 1964 Le Mans winning  GT class Daytona Coupe; A.J. Baine a journalist and author of “Go Like Hell”; Lucas Foster a film producer; Lynn Park an avid Cobra collector and a close friend of the late Carroll Shelby; and finally Aaron Shelby, Carroll Shelby’s grandson.  The fans loved hearing the many stories from these individuals.

The car show featured over 75 Ford and Shelby offerings including authentic early and current Shelby American cars as well as some very historic Cobras.  The building which also houses the Shelby American engine shop was full of the authentic Cobras while the outside area contained all the old and current Shelby American offerings as well as “replica” cars including, Cobras, Daytona Cobras, and a GT-40.  

Shelby AC Cobra badge. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien - Motor Driven Images (2014)

Those historic Cobras included the prototype 260 Cobra CSX2000 that was assembled during one long day and night in 1962 at Dean Moon’s shop in Santa Fe Springs; CSX2005 another 260 Cobra was used exclusively by the Shelby School of High Performance Driving located at Riverside Raceway; CSX2589 the final 289 Cobra built, personally owned by Carroll Shelby until the time of his death; and CSX2299 the 1964 Le Mans winning Daytona Cobra. For Cobra fans these can be considered “holy” (images below).

This was a fun filled event and we can now look forward to the 3rd Annual Tribute and car show next spring.




















NOTE: The Carroll Hall Shelby Trust unveiled plans for the new Carroll Shelby Automotive Museum (CSAM) at a founder’s reception on May 16, 2014, in Gardena, California. The museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created to educate the public about the high performance automotive industry. The CSAM is being formed by the Trust around the private collection of Mr. Shelby to celebrate his legacy and to inspire future generations.

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A 50's bumper car revival for towncar use

With vanity license plates that read DMV OK, HOT IDEA, IS 2 LEGL, NOBUMPN, IBBUMPN, and etc., these fun house rides are one of the best ways to bring a custom green ride to reality. Image Credit: Tom Wright via email

 A 50's bumper car revival for towncar use

Nostalgia, art, and recycling combine in an efficient use of energy and resources to just get around ... locally.

Take a hulk of an electric-powered amusement park and traveling carnival bumper car and turn it into a head-turning conversation piece that can get one easily around for local errands in an artistic style that is more fun than a Smart car, mo-ped scooter, bicycle, or ... skateboard.

A man in San Diego got an idea to revive bumper car hulk bodies originally from a ride that use to operate at the infamous Long Beach PIKE Amusement Park and have them become motorized transportation on the go.

With how well this concept turns out, it is amazing that more folks and/or enterprises do not jump in and make more of these personal, recycled, and efficient towncars for local jumps and errands (more photos). Image Credit: Click Orlando

This excerpted and edited from Click Orlando -

Old bumper cars turned into street-legal beauties
San Diego man working on 10th project

Click Orlando Author: Patrick Santomauro - May 06 2014 08:27:51 AM EDT

For the past 15 years, San Diegan Tom Wright has turned old bumper cars into street-legal vehicles capable of driving alongside normal cars and SUVs on the highway.

Wright's original plan was to remodel one bumper car and put it in the middle of a room in his San Diego home as a piece of art. However, the rush and enjoyment he gained from the work was too much to stop.

"It's a fun hobby that got a little bit out of control," Wright told KFMB-TV.


Fifteen years later, Wright has fixed up nine bumper cars and is working on his 10th project.

Wright turned his first bumper car into a 1950s yellow hot rod with flames and chrome finish. He has since created several themed bumper cars, including a police car, a woody wagon and a military car with a survival knife as a gear shift and a machine gun hood ornament.

Wright's current project is a taxi-themed bumper car with an early-1900s meter.

The street-legal bumper cars are powered with Yamaha and Kawasaki engines, enabling Wright to drive up to 50-60 miles per hour. One of Wright's cars reached 132 miles per hour on a dynamometer. However, Wright prefers to drive much slower.

"Anything over 50 is beyond scary," Wright told San Diego's KFMB 8-TV.

Wright has received multiple offers to buy his bumper cars. However, he says he has no plans to sell them.

"Got too many hours and busted knuckles putting them together," Wright said. "It's a full-time job keeping them running but that's my hobby. In retirement, that's what I'll do -- keep them running."
[Reference Here]

The first one he created was powered by beefy and vibration-heavy two cylinder Harley Davidson Motorcycle engine. As time went on, Wright saw fit to replace the great sound in favor of smooth running four cylinder Honda or Kawasaki 750cc engine ... and a couple have been measured as capable of 160 MPH, which is terrifyingly fast in machines with such a short wheelbase.

If anyone in the Southern California area would like to see Tom's recycled and converted bumper cars, he will be taking all of them on the road July 4th, 2014. They'll be the featured attraction in Escondido near the corner of Broadway and Grand from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"Outta' My Way ... I'm Comin' Through"!

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Detroit Grand Prix 2-fer benefits Penske Racing's Verizon champ bid

Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves led a race-high 42 laps in Race 2 t the Detroit Grand Prix, including the final 35 as he steadily pulled away to the point he could save his tires and make the final pit stop without the usual degree of pressure. Image Credit: David Yowe via Motorsport.com (2014)
Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves led a race-high 42 laps in Race 2 t the Detroit Grand Prix, including the final 35 as he steadily pulled away to the point he could save his tires and make the final pit stop without the usual degree of pressure. Image Credit: David Yowe via Motorsport.com (2014)

A Detroit Grand Prix 2-fer benefits Penske Racing's Verizon champ bid

One week after Andretti Autosport served notice that it intends to capture the Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) championship with its win utilizing a "Flood The Zone" 5-car strategy in the INDY500, Penske Racing answered back in their own 2-race Grand Prix on their own track at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit doubleheader at Belle Isle.

Andretti Autosport rolled into Detroit on a high created by winning one of motor culture's biggest prizes ($2.5 million winner's share) with the highest single race championship points payouts (double) for all the cars that finished - the 98th Indianapolis 500. Andretti Autosport 2012 IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay beat Penske Racing's 3-time INDY500 champion Helio Castroneves by the second smallest margin (0.06 seconds/about 3 feet separating the end of the DHL DW12 from the trailing Pennzoil DW12) with three additional Andretti Autosport cars landing at P3-Marco Andretti (so, that's two on the podium), P4-Carlos Munoz, and P6-Kurt Busch.

Up until about Lap 175 of 200 laps, Andretti Autosport was in contention to place all five cars fielded in the top 10 positions ... that is until a wild restart crash that saw Ed Carpenter in P3, Townsend Bell P4 and James Hinchcliffe at P5 - that had Bell passing, and ahead of Carpenter, who touched Bell, while Hinchcliffe trailed into an inside position setting up an impossible 3-wide competition through Turn-1 - sending Carpenter and Hinchcliffe careening into the wall.

Ryan Hunter-Reay came to the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit doubleheader at Belle Isle with a 40 point lead over his closest rival, Will Power. If this weekend were just a single race weekend event, the ability to erase this type of deficit would be nearly impossible. In fact, after the two practice sessions, the lap times the two drivers were logging (Power at P4 with a 1:17.8966 and RHR at P5 with a 1:18.1674 fastest lap) would have one guess that even with two races and double the points being awarded, this would still be a nearly impossible task.

Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit doubleheader at Belle Isle RACE 1:

Celebrating his best result in a season filled with frustration, Graham Rahal is happy to douse Detroit Race 1 winner, Will Power, from his P2 Podium position. Image Credit: Verizon IndyCar Series (2014)

This excerpted and edited from Crash.net -

Power overcomes poor qualifying to win  
Being mired down in 16th place on the grid in Detroit proved no obstacle to Will Power in his pursuit of a second Verizon IndyCar Series race win in 2014 
By crash.net - 31 May 2014

It had not been the best build-up to the first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit doubleheader at Belle Isle for Will Power, with Penske president Tim Cindric earlier admitting that the team was struggling to find pace in the #12 car this weekend as they qualified in a lowly 16th position.

A few hours later and the car - and driver - were transformed, thanks to tapping Power's team mate and polewinner Helio Castroneves for set-up tips and then by adopting a race strategy that gave them a fighting chance, thanks to a healthy amount of good fortune along the way.

Castroneves held the early lead of the race despite struggling to get off the grid for the formation laps, while fellow front row man James Hinchcliffe lost an early duel with Jack Hawksworth down into turn 1. There was an early yellow on lap 5 when Power made contact with Simon Pagenaud: the Australian was distracted by a simultaneous threat to the right from Marco Andretti and ended up pinching Pagenaud into the wall which left the #77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsport car in the turn 4 run-off with broken suspension.

A few of the cars toward the back of the field - Power among them - opted to pit under the caution, but the leaders stayed out and the race resumed on lap 8. However there was another early caution on lap 15 when Mike Conway understeered into the wall at turn 12 - meaning that both of the 2013 race winners were early retirements this time - and the leaders found it hard to pass up the opportunity to pit under yellow a second time.

The two drivers who stayed out were Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti, who duly resumed in the lead ahead of Power and the rest of the cars that had pitted on lap 6 that included Mikhail Aleshin, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Charlie Kimball, while Castroneves found himself down to eighth just ahead of Hinchcliffe.  
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The pit stops cycling through had put Castroneves back out in front when a new caution materialised on lap 36 for Josef Newgarden getting into the tyre barrier and wall at turn 7. The clean-up proved longer than expected because of water that had spilled out of the tyres when they were hit, and that brought the fuel window to reach the finish tantalisingly close - several cars including Ryan Briscoe and Marco Andretti tried pitting under the yellow for fuel top-ups in case the rest of the race ended up with an excess of cautions to make an extreme fuel conservation strategy viable.

The leaders stayed off pit road under the caution only to come in shortly afterwards in accordance with their pre-arranged race strategies: Castroneves and Hinchcliffe came in on lap 46 and dropped to 15th and 16th respectively as a result, which ended up removing both from contention for the race win in the latter stages of the race.

Effectively the field was now split into three groups of differing strategies: Power led the race ahead of Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal, all of whom needed to pit shortly and had no intention of easing off their fuel use. From sixth on down was the second group headed by Marco Andretti and Justin Wilson who were going to try and make it home on fumes; and then there were the former leaders Castroneves and Hinchcliffe who led the lack of cars who could make it to the finish but who now lacked track position.

Power came in for his final stop on lap 53 with 18 laps remaining, and a fast stop saw him re-emerge just ahead of Andretti.
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Graham  Rahal driving the RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING's No. 15 DW12 Honda, gave Penske Racing's Will Power a chase over the final 10 laps to capture a P2 Podium position at Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race 1 at Belle Isle race's end. Image Credit: Graham Rahal Instagram
Graham Rahal driving the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's No. 15 DW12 Honda, gave Penske Racing's Chevy-Powered DW12 Will Power a chase over the final 10 laps to capture a P2 Podium position at Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race 1 at Belle Isle race's end. Image Credit: Graham Rahal Instagram

The final ten laps saw Power on the ragged edge as he was forced to apply every bit of his talent to hold off Rahal to the chequered flag. Kanaan was well out of this battle and was five seconds off the pair as Power successfully clinched the win by just 0.3308s from Rahal.

"Just a great job by the team, putting me in a position to use our speed," said Power. "It's a massive win. It's a massive win for me, massive win for the team and especially for Roger and for Chevy. They've been trying to win here for a long time and we finally did it with a Honda trying to charge by."

"We've been fighting awfully hard to just finish where we have been finishing and so to finally get a result like this it means more than words," said Rahal, who had been suffering a frustrating season up to now in 2014.
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"That was hard work, very hard work," admitted Power. "I'm very exhausted."
[Reference Here]

Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit doubleheader at Belle Isle RACE 2:

Helio Castroneves and Chevrolet were the class of the field in Detroit on Sunday as he led his Chevy-Powered competitors Penske team mate Will Power / Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing's Charlie  Kimball to the chequered flag and podium in the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race 2 Belle Isle. Image Credit: Team Chevy (2014)
Helio Castroneves and Chevrolet were the class of the field in Detroit on Sunday as he led his Chevy-Powered competitors, Penske team mate Will Power / Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing's Charlie Kimball, to the checkered flag and podium in the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race 2 Belle Isle. Image Credit: Team Chevy (2014)

This excerpted and edited from Racer -

IndyCar: Castroneves finds redemption in Belle Isle race 2  
By: Robin Miller - Racer.com - Sunday, 01 June 2014

Helio Castroneves may have had the fastest car Saturday and, due to some untimely caution flags, he wound up finishing fifth while teammate Will Power came from 16th to first.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner definitely had the fastest car Sunday afternoon at Belle Isle and nothing could deter him from victory lane.

Starting third in the Hitachi Dallara-Chevrolet, Castroneves completed a Penske perfect weekend with a dominating drive in the second of the Chevrolet Dual at Detroit. The 39-year-old veteran took the lead on lap 35, stretched his advantage to 13 seconds and then overcame a couple of late restarts to score the 19th win of his career and tie Rick Mears for 11th on the all-time win list. He led the final 35 laps and was clearly in a class of his own.
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Power, who made four pits stops and suffered a drive-through penalty for contact with Josef Newgarden on the opening lap, battled back to take second in the Verizon Dallara-Chevrolet.  
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Polesitter Takuma Sato led the first 10 laps in the AJ Foyt Racing Dallara-Honda but as his strategy went awry, he fell back in the pack, got spun by Ryan Briscoe, and eventually tagged the tire wall with five laps left to wind up 18th.

Mike Conway, with a first and a third at Detroit a year ago, crashed out of Saturday's race but qualified his Ed Carpenter Racing car fourth Sunday morning. He looked like the only driver with the pace to give Castroneves fits but a long stint on fading optional tires was not the way to go, and he plummeted down the field. He finished 11th.

Indy winner Ryan Hunter-Reay suffered through a miserable weekend. He crashed in qualifying Saturday and finished 16th in the first race. He smacked the wall in almost the same place Sunday on his first flying lap, started 21st and dropped out in 19th place with ECU failure.
[Reference Here]

Best descriptive Tweet:

With Penske Racing holding down the top two positions in the championship points race over Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay in P3, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud P4, and Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti P5, one has to get past Andretti's Rookie Carlos Munoz and Penske's Juan Montoya before reaching any Target Chip Ganassi driver. Last year's IndyCar champion Scott Dixon sits behind seven other drivers after seven races with eleven races to go ... just not the right direction for Scott or Chip.

Next weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series takes the show to the high banked tri-oval turns in Fort Worth, Texas, site of the most close finishes in IndyCar where Helio Castroneves grabbed onto, and held the championship points lead until the last race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana last year.

This excerpted and edited from NBC Sports -

IndyCar title chase may shape up as a battle of mental chess match

Tony DiZinno Jun 2, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

This weekend saw Power take on the role of the villain, the masked avenger who made contact with Pagenaud on Saturday (no penalty, just as he also did not receive one in Long Beach) but did make contact with Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal on Sunday (which did trigger a penalty).

Meanwhile Castroneves came out revitalized with arguably his best weekend in the series in years. He’s won races with the DW12 before, yes, but not with as much “he’s still got it” pace and gusto as he delivered both races this weekend, particularly Sunday. It was a seriously impressive mental bounce back after losing out in Indy.

Power’s mind has long been hard to decipher. He’s consistently been IndyCar’s out-and-out fastest driver since he joined Team Penske, but he’s never been fully able to keep it all together over the course of the season, and hasn’t yet captured an elusive championship. This year, he’s not making any friends, and he’s not focusing on points – only on driving the best he can every race. It remains to be seen whether that mindset will ultimately pay dividends.

Hunter-Reay is arguably IndyCar’s most versatile driver, as he excels on any of road courses, short ovals and big ovals. If he has even the tiniest of weak points, it’s on street courses, where he’s been plagued either by mechanical issues or slight mistakes the last year and a half. After Indy, RHR had a weekend nearly as bad as AJ Allmendinger’s last year in Detroit, and now must find a way to recover in Texas.

Pagenaud and Dixon are similar in that they both have a seriously steely resolve and exterior, and haven’t let issues get to them this year, at least publicly. Dixon’s Sunday drive from 22nd and last to fourth was one of those classic “don’t forget how good the Iceman/defending champion is” type-performances. Pagenaud, too, came back on Sunday following a rough Friday and Saturday.

What about Castroneves? He might have the best mindset going forward. At 39, he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning. He nails the game outside of the cockpit; he’s still IndyCar’s most recognizable star on a national level and he’s won everything he’s ever needed to in IndyCar. Except, of course, that elusive first championship.

The Brazilian is basically IndyCar’s walking, talking version of Pharrell’s “Happy!” but there’s still a burning desire to be the best when he straps his helmet on. He’s driving so much calmer, cooler and consistently than he was three years ago.

If Power and/or Hunter-Reay self-destruct around him, Dixon can’t make up the 140-plus point deficit (he’s 142 back now, and we’ll know likely by Pocono whether he still has a shot) and Pagenaud isn’t consistent enough to match the “big teams,” Castroneves may well samba into this year’s title.

Marco Andretti’s the remaining driver in the top five still with a shot at the title, but he’s at the point where he has to win – particularly at Pocono, given double points there – before you can really begin to factor him into title contention. Given his results consistency level though, you can’t rule him out of it, either.

How drivers and teams manage this summer stretch, both on-track and in their heads, will be fascinating to watch. 
[Reference Here]

The season now begins in earnest ... no excuses. Tune in to Twitter, RaceControl.IndyCar.com and/or NBC Sports to catch the action and assess to see who wants this championship the most:

6 JUN Friday - Practice 1 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM ET

Qualifications 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM ET

Practice 2 7:45 PM - 8:15 PM ET

7 JUN Saturday - Race 8:30 PM - 10:45 PM ET

... notes from The EDJE

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ryan Hunter-Reay ... from 'Rookie Move' to Indy500 winner

"GOT MILK?!!!" - Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay pours the traditional award of a post race winner's quart of milk over his head in celebration of being the 98th winner of the Indy500. Partial Caption & Image: Eric Schwarzkopf (2014)

Ryan Hunter-Reay ... from 'Rookie Move' to Indy500 winner

The Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) 2014 championship season has been a real roller-coaster ride for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay (RHR), through these first five races of an 18 race season.

The lowest point for RHR and Andretti Autosport had to have been at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. With Ryan Hunter-Reay followed by James Hinchcliffe running strong in the lead for most of the race, Josef Newgarden threatened this march to the eventual win through a superb final pitstop from his Sarah Fisher Hartman crew to leapfrog to the lead on Lap 56 in Turn1.

On cold tires, Newgarden had a little wheel spin coming out of the Fountain Turn (Turn3) and RHR placed his nose diving into the apex of Turn4 causing a crash into the wall and collecting several drivers ... ending the races of Newgarden, Himself, Hinchcliffe, Kanaan, and etc. causing Andretti Autosport team-mate Hinchcliffe to say on a post wreck television pitlane interview: "a rookie move" "sad for Newgarden, TK etc."

RHR was a total goat for the move and he even had his team owner, Michael Andretti, was visibly very upset at messing up what would have been a double-podium finish for his team at the 40th running of the Long Beach Grand Prix. Of course ... Ryan Hunter-Reay, at the time, did not apologize.

The Indy500 opening ceremony along the front straight-away at the Pagoda. Image Credit: P29 qualifying/P23 finishing AJ Foyt Racing No. 41 driver Martin Plowman (2014)

Enter Alabama and the reworked, and famed, "Month Of May" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which, for the first time, featured a dedicated road course race, The Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and The Greatest Spectacle in Racing ... the Indy500.

Just four weeks ago, Ryan Hunter-Reay was crowned the winner of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park.

After a huge crash marred the standing start of the  inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Simon Pagenaud went on to win where Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second and Helio Castroneves was third.

So far, so good for RHR who was looking to redeem himself ... but was still points behind Penske Racing's Will Power who had benefited from Ryan's "rookie move" at Long Beach with the win and a strong position on the VICS season points lead.

Ryan Hunter-Reay shares an intimate moment with his young son, Ryden, on pitlane before the Indy500. The Andretti Autosport family had custom firesuits made for the drivers who had young ones attending the race ... duplicated down to the very logos their father's suits had on them - to scale. Image Credit: @Liz Kreutz via Twitter

This excerpted and edited from The Detroit News -

Ryan Hunter-Reay excited to follow up Indy 500 triumph with race in Detroit
By David Goricki - May 26, 2014 at 11:44 pm - The Detroit News

Ryan Hunter-Reay is giving American motor sports fans a hero to cheer for in the IndyCar series.

Hunter-Reay will take the Belle Isle race track this weekend for the Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader with the prestigious title of Indianapolis 500 champion.

Basically, Hunter-Reay beats Castroneves by a mere 3 feet. Image Credit: INDYSTAR

Hunter-Reay, 33, became the first American to win the Indy 500 since Sam Hornish in 2006, and he earned the win in thrilling style, passing three-time champion Helio Castroneves on the final lap Sunday, then holding him off to win by less than a car length for the second closest finish in race history.

Penske Racing's 3-time Indy500 winner Helio Castroneves consoles himself just after the end of one of the most memorable Indy500 races since maybe the 1960's. An Indy for the ages. 150 laps without a yellow flag - followed by a crazy wild series of yellows and a red flag - followed by an intense battle between RHR and Castroneves. Helio started to get out of his car and then just dropped back in and held his head for a minute in complete disbelief. Somebody had to finish 2nd ... Caption & Image Credit: Norm DeWitt (2014)

Hunter-Reay talked about his win at Indy, his busy schedule and how he is excited to come to the Motor City in a few days during a phone interview Monday afternoon.

“I was running on instincts the last four or five laps, just went as hard as I could,” said Hunter-Reay, talking about how the lead changed hands several times between Castroneves and himself. “Helio knows how to win at Indy and he was tough to hold off. We ran hard but clean against each other and I felt we put on an excellent show.

“It feels so great to be an American Indy 500 champion. I idolized the Unsers, Andrettis and A.J. Foyt, all legends while growing up, had all their posters on my wall so hoisting that flag was so cool.”

Yes, Hunter-Reay quickly IS becoming the face of the IndyCar series, winning the series championship in 2012 and now the Indy 500. He has won eight races during the past three seasons, more than any other driver, and holds a 40-point lead over Penske driver Will Power (274-234) for the top spot in the standings.

Now, it’s on to the Motor City where Honda-powered drivers have won the last two years, spoiling the party of title sponsor Chevrolet and Roger Penske, car owner of Chevrolet-powered cars driven by Castroneves, Power and Juan Montoya.

“I love coming to Detroit,” said Hunter-Reay, who finished runnerup to Mike Conway in Race No. 1 last year and 18th in the second race. “It’s 180-degree opposite from Indy (2.5-mile oval). It’s a bumpy course, physically demanding, a street course similar to Toronto or Houston. There’s also a lot of points on the line so it’s going to be important and exciting.”
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Hunter-Reay ended Ganassi/Target racing’s run of four consecutive series championships in 2012 when he won four of the final six races to slip past Power by a 468-465 margin to become the first American to become series champion since Hornish in ’06.
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When Hinchcliffe was asked of the Long Beach fiasco in days leading up to the Indy 500, he replied: “Every driver is competitive and will go for it (lead) when an opportunity presents itself and Ryan will make that right move nine out of every 10 times. He’s the complete package, a very rounded driver. He knows how to get everything out of the car on qualifying and brings it on race day.”

Well, Hinchcliffe was also in position to win the Indy 500 with less than 30 laps remaining Sunday when he took out pole sitter Ed Carpenter while both were in the top 5. Hinchcliffe made it a three-wide situation and the two collided, taking them both out.

When Andretti and Hunter-Reay were in the press conference Sunday, the topic of Hinchcliffe’s move came up.

“Hey, he was going for it. It’s the Indy 500,” Andretti said of Hinchcliffe. “Had he pulled that move off, he’s in position to win the race.”

“Not enough patience,” joked Hunter-Reay. “Rookie move. James is a great friend of mine (laughing).”
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Yes, it is a game changer, a reason Hunter-Reay was set to open the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, then appear on “The Today Show” before heading to Dallas Wednesday to promote a future race. And, an appearance on the David Letterman Show follows the Belle Isle doubleheader next week.

“It’s been crazy, not time to take a breath yet,” Hunter-Reay said. “I only had four hours of sleep.”

Well, that’s what happens Ryan when you win the Indianapolis 500. In fact, your life will never be the same.
[Reference Here]

So there is a fully redeemed Ryan Hunter-Reay in the VICS season points lead with Andretti Autosport team-mate James Hinchcliffe pulling a "rookie move' to change the complexion of the entire event.

The finishing drivers accomplishments in the top ten positions reads like a Who's Who in American motorsport racing at its highest levels.

As stated by The EDJE on Facebook soon after the event:

What a grand race for the DW12 era - Ryan Hunter-Reay and 3-time Indy500 winner Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves battle the last six laps to the end with RHR taking the win by the 2nd closest margin in 98 years.

Look at the names in the top 10 as well - Marco Andretti on the podium, Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz gets a 4th after finishing last year in P2, Penske Racing's Juan Pablo Montoya ... fresh from NASCAR finishes ahead of NASCAR driver stand out Kurt Busch who, again, drove a car fielded by Andretti Autosport. Four-time ChampCar World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais at 7th followed by Penske Racing's former 2014 points leader Will Power ... who seems to be getting the hang of ovals, last row starter and Mazda Ladder rookie Sage Karam in 9th with J.R. Hildebrand in tenth who was going to win last year's race until he hit the wall on the last corner of the last lap handing the win to Tony Kanaan.

W-O-W !

Ryan Hunter-Reay can now lay claim to something that Helio Castroneves can not say for himself ... with this win during the "Month Of May", RHR has an Indy500 and an IndyCar season championship in his trophy case ... nice move!

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mr. Hank Williams and his 289 Cobra CSX-2227

Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images (2014)

Mr. Hank Williams and his 289 Cobra CSX-2227
Article and Photographs:  Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Hank Williams at the recent “2nd Annual Tribute to Carroll Shelby” held in Gardena, California. 

Williams was an aspiring musician in the 1950’s when he determined that, “there was no future in it”.  Working at USC County hospital gave him enough money to acquire his first true sports car, a black MGA, which required some work.  Taking night classes at a local school he learned metalwork and was able to fix it up.  After joining the local sports car club he discovered that he was competitive in slalom-style events.  Around this time he was becoming frustrated with the lack of performance the MGA had and soon found a 1963 Healey 3000 Mk III. Once he stiffened it up he started winning events.

Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images (2014)
By the early 1960’s he became good friends with a young lady from Oklahoma whose family was in the oil business.  Her allowance and his salary gave them a good lifestyle.  His hard work and talent was paying off in the competitive events when he noticed the Cobras that were turning up.  In 1964 he saw his Cobra at Norman Ford in Pomona.

Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images (2014)
Possibly because he is an African American he was told that in order to purchase the Cobra he needed approval by the dealership, required cash, and due to safety considerations needed to pass a high-performance driving class (this was a Shelby American requirement). By this time he had his his SCCA license and was considered a professional race driver. One obstacle down and two to go.  Thanks to some assistance from his lady friend he was able to show up for one more “negotiation” with the $6,390.00 needed in hand.  After that it was relatively easy for him to get “dealership approval” and in December he drove out of the dealership in his new Cobra.

Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images (2014)
Like all original Cobras Williams’ car (CSX-2227) was assembled by AC Cars in England and shipped sans motor, transmission, and differential  to Shelby’s Venice California facility.  The original order called for “Princess Blue” with Red interior, 1 of only 3 built in that exterior color. Although not an official Shelby color it was an AC Cars color and the car contains a certificate stating that fact.  For reasons unknown by Williams the color on his car is not true “Princess Blue” but more of a metallic silver-green shade.

The Cobra has over 140,000 miles on the odometer and shows a patina that comes with 50 years of driving. Although given a repaint in 1980 the car has never been to a body shop, rare for any car that age and even rarer for a Cobra. The car is all original down to the brass brads that attach the headlight bezels to the fenders.  Williams states that due to its originality it is used as a benchmark when judging other Cobras at Concourse events. Under the hood is the original 289 V-8 that has been rebuilt by Marvin McFee. The only competition modifications done were; “I fitted five-spoke American Mag wheels, headers, a 715 Holley, and modified the exhaust to the side.  Those English Armstrongs (shocks) were quickly swapped for Konis.  I bought all the bits from Shelby American and did the work myself.”  All the original parts he took off are still in his possession enabling him to bring the car back to original, as sold, 1964 specs.

Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images (2014)
The Cobra was a daily driver into the early 1970’s. After that time it was used solely for competition events until 1979. Williams gave up using the Cobra in competition and started attending Shelby American Automobile Club  (SAAC) events. The car is considered the “worlds winningest 289 Cobra”, had the honor of being the only original privately owned 289 Cobra at the opening of the Shelby American Museum in Las Vegas, and made history when it was the first Cobra driven by an African American around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Mr. Hank Williams considers the car a keeper and has no intension of parting with it.  One of the reasons, “It’s always a hit with the ladies”. Did he trailer the car to the event?  No, he drove it from his home near Rancho Cucamonga, about 65 miles away.

... notes from The EDJE