Reading: ALMS The relevant racing series in America

Reading: ALMS The relevant racing series in America

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Reading: ALMS The relevant racing series in America

Posted: 07 Oct 2010 06:01 AM PDT

A great piece on the Amercian Le Mans Series as it stands today!

Ferrari, Corvette, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar and Ford all participated in this weekends battle at the storied circuit Road Atlanta, Photos: © 2010 Corey Beaman |

Photos: © 2010 Corey Beaman |

As an American, I can regretfully say that the American Le Mans Series is unequivocally the most relevant racing series in the United States. I know that will not sit well with hardened NASCAR fans but it is a truism that has been proved yet again this weekend at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. It’s not because I am a Formula 1, road course snob (although I admit that I am), or that I have some latent frustration with NASCAR (although I admit that I do) or that I am bereft of what real acing is (although I have been accused of such).

It is because the cars I’m watching battle for the GT2 championship today are cars I could actually purchase. They are modified for racing but remain the same marque that the showrooms across America have proudly displayed. Ferrari, Corvette, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar and Ford all participated in this weekends battle at the storied circuit Road Atlanta. They remain relevant because unlike NASCAR, they are actual chassis’s that the manufacturer makes. They have no carburetor’s and have working headlamps. They are real and not neolithic cars with an engine that still looks like a 1970’s muscle car.

Ferrari, Corvette, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar and Ford at Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Photos: © 2010 Corey Beaman |

Photos: © 2010 Corey Beaman |

NASCAR hasn’t been relevant for many years, in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining. It just depends on your motivation for watching. I prefer racing series that utilize road course as a more entertaining measure of the car and driver. I like that the cars in the GT series are real manufacturers and that they possess technology that is current in road cars. I find ovals boring and without the nuance and essence of racing as I was raised of road course and not ovals. That may differ completely with a fan who was raised on ovals and loves the gladiatorial nature of NASCAR regardless if the series is relevant or not. That’s fair, we all have our reasons for watching.

In the end, The American Le Mans Series is, in my opinion, a far superior series than NASCAR because it is more closely related to its fan base from a consumer and market appeal. NASCAR may ahve the stickers that represent the marketing appeal for sponsors but ALMS has the actual car itself that harkens back to the reason road racing in America began back in 1948 at Watkins Glen.

An the LMP class in ALMS? That’s just the icing on the cake. A glimpse of what the technology could do with larger budgets and manufacturer support. Those are the cars by which the series is measured but the cars that represent the heart and soul of American racing is the GT class. I am aware of the different worlds of NASCAR fans and ALMS fans but I’ll be damned if I can understand it.

- Formula 1 Blog

Photos: © 2010 Corey Beaman |

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Spy shots of the New New Beetle?

Posted: 07 Oct 2010 06:00 AM PDT

Volkswagen's New New Beetle

Stop it Volkswagen. You cannot revise, edit, copy and delete etc on a classic shape. The New Beetle should have had a shelf life of maybe 10 years. If this is anything near the look of the next-gen that will be offered, it will fail. A limited Ragster might gain some interest… O-well.

Engines will include a 105bhp 1.2, a 160bhp 1.4 and a 210bhp 2.0. The US-bound 170bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine is not destined for Europe. Diesels will include the new 105bhp 1.6 and a 140bhp 2.0 TDI.

A hybrid is also planned, with a similar drivetrain to that of the Jetta CC from this year’s Detroit show: a 150bhp turbocharged/supercharged 1.4 with a 27bhp electric motor.

The new Beetle is expected to go on sale in the UK in May 2011. A cabriolet will follow about a year later.

More pics – Autocar

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Volkswagen Power Engine: More power, more suspense, less costs

Posted: 06 Oct 2010 07:16 AM PDT

Volkswagen Push-to-Pass system in Formula 3 Cup

Volkswagen will be pursuing new avenues in future Formula 3 events.

The near-250-hp power-plant, initially to be used exclusively in the German ATS Formula 3 Cup from 2012 onwards, will pave the way into a career in professional Formula racing thanks to clearly reduced costs. Larger rebuild intervals and durable build will keep the technical budget within easily calculable and comparatively low limits. In addition to more favourable costs, the Volkswagen Power Engine delivers a notable increase in power compared with conventional engines plus the innovative push-to-pass function that makes for additional suspense on the race track.

“In the area of promoting young talent the ATS Formula 3 Cup represents an important connecting link between entry-level series and international championships. To provide as many young talents with an opportunity to show their abilities as well as securing a sound economic basis for the racing teams, costs must be kept at a reasonable level,” explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “The new standard Formula 3 engine from Volkswagen will enable lower budgets from 2012 onwards because it has been purposely designed for low costs and long life. At the same time, its high power and performance capabilities plus the push-to-pass system make it an extremely attractive power-plant from a sporting perspective as well. We’re very pleased to launch this new strategy of the Volkswagen Power Engine together with the organisers of the ATS Formula 3 Cup that will secure the future of Formula 3 in Germany and promises many thrilling races.”

Volkswagen Power Engine cuts costs by 50 per cent

The cost-conscious concept of the Volkswagen Power Engine provides for a racing engine that is usable for a complete season without rebuilds. For about 10,000 kilometres of testing, practice and races within one season, the leasing agreement includes a rebuild fee of 10,000 euros. After a three-year term the engines automatically become the property of the racing team. The new Volkswagen power-plant is a Formula 3-typical two-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine with an air restrictor. In the interest of cost reduction the engine is based on a production unit that hardly uses any expensive light-way components. In total, the Volkswagen Power Engine cuts costs by fifty per cent compared with previous Formula 3 engines.”

Push-to-pass function: 33 additional hp by pressing a button

The push-to-pass function is a truly novel feature in Formula 3. A button in the steering wheel allows the drivers to use a power boost of about 33 hp for a few seconds during practice sessions and the races – the output thus increases from 215 to 248 hp (158/182 kW). This will make the Formula 3 races that typically see extremely close battles for every metre even more attractive due to additional overtaking manoeuvres and new tactical considerations. Lamps on the roll-over bar will immediately tell TV spectators and the trackside crowd which driver is making use of this power boost and is getting ready to pass a rival. Volkswagen successfully launched push-to-pass function in 2010 in the Scirocco R-Cup, the first ever one-make cup to feature such a system, and has been rewarded with extremely exciting races. Formula 1 legends like Martin Brundle and Johnny Herbert or the World Rally Champion and “Dakar” winner Carlos Sainz were obviously thrilled with the efficiency of the system and the numerous overtaking manoeuvres it enables.

Successful debut for new powerplant at Oschersleben

At the ATS Formula 3 Cup’s season finale at Oschersleben the first unit of the Volkswagen Power Engine made its race track debut: Laurens Vanthoor, the current champion of Germany’s fastest Formula racing series, drove the near-250-hp Dallara-Volkswagen in two test sessions and immediately recorded the fastest time of the day. “This is any racer’s dream: a power boost by pressing a button,” raves the 19-year-old Belgian. “The push-to-pass function is a real plus and will ensure that spectators get to see more overtaking manoeuvres. In addition, the drivers can use it for tactical purposes.”

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Audi A4 wins Euro NCAP Advanced Award

Posted: 06 Oct 2010 05:23 AM PDT

Leading in the field of active safety: “Euro NCAP Advanced” for Audi A4 with side assist

The most important European vehicle safety tester, “European New Car Assessment Programme” (Euro NCAP), has presented the Audi A4 with its coveted “Euro NCAP Advanced” award at the Paris Motor Show. Following the five star rating in the regular “Euro NCAP” crash test program, the Audi A4 has now been rewarded for its Audi side assist lane change assistant. The crash testers are all agreed: The active assistance system supports the driver and can help to prevent accidents.

  • Award for A4 from Europe’s most important independent safety tester
  • Lane change assistant Audi side assist can help to prevent accidents
  • Predictive system makes driving even more convenient and safer

“Passive and active safety systems have reduced the number of accidents and their effects,” explains Dr. Ulrich Widmann, Head of Vehicle Safety Development at AUDI AG. “The “Euro NCAP Advanced” award for the Audi A4 confirms our approach to increasing convenience and safety with active driver assistance systems.”

At speeds of 30 km/h (18.64 mph) and above, Audi side assist operates with two radar sensors in the rear that observe what is happening behind the car. Should another vehicle be moving on the adjacent lane or approaching at high speed, a yellow LED indicator in the outside mirror housing lights up. If the driver still activates the turn signal to change lanes, the indicator becomes brighter and begins to flash quickly – a signal that is hard to miss.

The “Euro NCAP” crash testers from Brussels have been examining new cars since 1998 and award a maximum of five stars in their safety rating. The “Euro NCAP Advanced” award is presented to systems that help prevent accidents. Audi side assist with the “Euro NCAP Advanced” seal of approval is available on the A4, A5, A6, A7 Sportback, A8, Q5 and Q7 models.

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