Thursday, February 24, 2011

NASCAR: When Getting Your Head Stuck in the Stair Railing Over and Over Just Ain't Good Enough ...

Hey: Remember your driver's ed course where that old guy tried to get it in your head over and over about how bad stuff happens when you tailgate?

You know: rear end collisions, plus not being able to see stuff that's going on up ahead of you?

Well that's all boring lecture and film bidness, and while you get a few chances to see the physics in rush-hour traffic, there's no better graphic demonstration than this year's Daytona 500, where some genius decided that pairing-up all the cars to bump-draft throughout the race was a brilliant idea.

Did you get to see a wreck every ten minutes?

Same here.

Did you get to hear each guy who pooooshed his way into a wreck complain that he just couldn't see what was going on ahead of him and that there wasn't enough time to get warned of a slow-down over the radio?

Me too.

Is this whole bump-drafting thing just another good 'ol boy stab at playing hide-n-seek in the junk refrigerators in the yard?

Why, yes it is.

The crowd of folks solemnly holding three fingers in the air before this year's 500 to honor a race driver who was killed a decade ago in NASCAR's 190 mph parking lot mighta woulda made for a touching scene if they weren't all gathered to celebrate the same old bunch-em-and-wreck-em dumbpidity.

This ain't racin' ... it's playing chicken with Darwin.

Since we're still in The Great Recession there must be more economical ways for even loaded good 'ol boys to get themselves kilt. Feel free to suggest yours below.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2012 Chevy Sonic RS Turbo: Three Extra Horsepower? Seriously?

OK, Chevrolet. Care to tell us what's so special about the extra three (3 as 135+3, or 2.22%) horsepower up for grabs in your upcoming 2012 Sonic RS?

Seriously? A three horsepower bump for the 1.4t RS over the 135 hp available in the base 1.8 Sonic and suddenly we're talking a brand new performance model designation?

It's one thing to rename the frumpy old rolly-poly wheezing computer-algorithm-named Aveo a "Sonic" whilst still providing a decidedly un-sonic rolly-poly wheezing platform for the new model, but when you start renaming cars "RS" and putting righteous alloy five-spokers on all four corners you better breathe some sincere grunt on the effort.

I know. Your proposed hotted-up RS model will have more torque and nearly all of it available across the rev range, so it will scoot more better than the normally-aspirated 1.8 base wheezer. (A whopping 25 extra ft. lbs. of torque ... someone please rush the smelling salts).

It will have a better suspension and tires, and probably some currently faddish standard equipment like Bluetooth phone connectivity ... because everyone wants to share their phone conversations with the carpool or look like a lunatic yakking away in an empty car. There will no doubt be little body flair parts all over and a special gearshift knob that all the 20-something hipsters will be replacing with eBay-sourced "forged from billet unobtainium" knobs simply because some guy on a forum is offering a factory-direct group buy from his uncle's money-laundering garage-based foundry in New Jersey.

But if you don't pony up some appropriate ponies for this new so-called hot hatch of yours, Chevy, you have doomed the New General Motors to the same sins of the old.

We remember the Cadillac Cimmaron.

(Little known fact: Rick Wagoner smirked when Obama mentioned that hoodwinkmobile in D.C. a few years back. Rick's How Bad Do You Want to Keep Your Job interview was going just swimmingly 'til then).

And turbos are about to be everywhere again.

You can no longer impress young men with the word "Turbo," especially when your "Turbo" provides little over the standard engine but higher running costs.

Three horsepower and 25 extra in the torque department?

Name-drop those Corvette engineers who are suspension-tweaking Sonic RS if you care, but it's no magic trick getting a car with Pee-Wee Herman Power to stay on the road. Some "Corvette engineer" in India could Google old Zora Arkus-Duntov papers and claim the magic ingredients.

As this nation's self-appointed Car Czar I'm well aware that some committee deep within your bowels suspects that you can sell a few million of 135 hp and 138 hp Chevy Sonics before anyone notices, hence bumping your CAFE figures for the period.

Instead, General Motors, suspect this: Boost this baby up to 170 or better or the world driving population will revolt against your latest attempt at Rally-Sporting an unremarkable car using the same FaceTwitter tactics that recently brought down that guy in Egypt.

As the nation's self-appointed Car Czar I will be watching. Even if the social networking revolt proposed above is a dud, mark my words: Continue to market the Sonic RS with its whopping three-horsepower advantage over the base model and I shall return to this blog and visit meaning upon the appellation "RS" ... and it shall not be "Really Smart."

I am the Car Czar, and I'm here to help.