About that time a drove a Trojan horse across the country…

4 07 2012

This seemed like a fitting day to post the account of my recent cross-country horse-towing sprint. For America.

You can see the related gallery (and original post) here, but it’s reproduced here in all its lengthy glory down below:

There are as many ways to receive the Sacrament of the Open Road as there are roadside tourist traps. Some choose to make meticulous road-trip plans revolving around specific destinations. Others crisscross the country on a Kerouacian voyage of self-discovery until the allure of the road begins to fade.

Sometimes, however, the opportunity to hit the highway arrives spontaneously, leaving you no time to prepare. You must ditch reason, abandon any attempt at proper planning, fly out to California and then spend two days trailering a giant, wooden Trojan horse to Detroit.

I should know, because that’s exactly what I did a few weeks ago. It all started with a Thursday afternoon text message from my buddy Kolin:

“Wanna go to california and then drive back a mr perks size animal across the country?” he wrote.

A bit of background: Mr. Perks is a giant fiberglass pig that Kolin and I drove around southeastern Michigan for a state senate campaign a few summers ago.

I soon learned that the “mr perks size animal” in California was a massive Trojan horse. Apparently once you break into the giant-novelty-animal transportation business, it’s hard to break out.

Kolin didn’t know why the horse was in California or who, exactly, needed it in Michigan—or when it needed to arrive, for that matter. A former boss passed the job on to him, but little else about the assignment was clear. Faced with a lack of details, I told him I’d have to think about it.

Minutes later I came to my senses. When you get the chance to road-trip a giant wooden horse cross-country, you don’t say no. Read the rest of this entry »





Down at the Mid-Ohio

28 06 2012

Last weekend, I headed down to Lexington, Ohio for the Vintage Grand Prix at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. I beat the heat and had a great time.

Cars on the paddock between races

Anyway, I got three posts out of it, all of which include some pretty nifty pictures. Check them out and enjoy!

Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Day 1: Ready to race

Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Day 2: British invasion

Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Day 3: Weekend wrap-up

This event really deserves a lot more publicity and promotion. I’ll be sure to share the details of the 2013 event when they become available.

 





Formula One racing – American as apple pie

10 06 2012

Formula One racing has never seen the type of domestic success enjoyed by, say, NASCAR.

F1’s image is undoubtedly part of it – there’s just something foreign about the series that extends beyond the marques represented on the track or the far-flung locations of the races themselves. I watched both the Monaco Grand Prix and a decent chunk of the Indianapolis 500 this past Memorial Day weekend. I’ll let you guess which race kicked off with a P-51 Mustang flyover.

Then there are the drivers. In the stock car racing satire Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Sacha Baron Cohen’s effete, macchiato-sipping Jean Girard lampooned America’s perception of the typical F1 driver. His fictional sponsor was Perrier. Compare that to Ricky Bobby’s all-American Wonderbread backers.

Of course, real F1 drivers are not sniffy elitists but highly skilled athletes – and a quick glance at off-track politics reveals that that, ideologically speaking at least, the racing series and its participants may not be so foreign after all.

Take the events surrounding the Grand Prix of Canada. The race has been threatened by college students – let’s call them “Occupy Montreal” – protesting insignificant tuition increases and (of course) capitalism in general. F1 racing, a pursuit of the global One Percent, is an easy target. Read the rest of this entry »





There’s still time to celebrate

6 06 2012

Celebrate International Convoy Day, that is.

Mercy sakes alive, we’ve got us a convoy

Find out more at my Autoweek post. It’s part of what I get paid to do all day.





By this time tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to California

2 06 2012

…with my friend Kolin. To pick up a giant Trojan Horse and tow it back to Western Michigan. Non-stop.

Yeah. That’s about as much as I know as well.

A gift from the gods, maybe

What could go wrong?





Watch a Viper bite the dust in a spectacular fashion

22 05 2012

Looks like you can strike one Viper ACR-X from the registry. SRT Viper Cup driver David Pintaric managed to obliterate his ACR-X at Road America earlier this month – and walk away unharmed.

It’s fire and it’s crashing! It’s crashing terrible! Oh, my!

Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the amazing footage that survived the crash is a weird sort of bonus/consolation prize: Read the rest of this entry »





First Autoweek pieces

21 05 2012
After a week of working, I’ve already got a decent list of stories to my name. Sure, they’re all web-only, and sure, many are just summaries of press releases, but that’s how you learn the ropes. Check them out if you get a chance:
More importantly, they’re a start.




Carroll Shelby is dead

11 05 2012

Word is that Carroll Shelby peeled off into the great beyond last night at the age of 89. Sad news, but not unexpected, as he had been in poor health. In any event, 89 years isn’t a bad run for someone involved in motorsports – or someone who lived with a serious heart condition and received both a heart and kidney transplant as Shelby did.

Shelby driving an Aston Martin DBR1 to victory  in the 1959 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Perhaps one of the inspirations for the Cobra?

I met him once, when I was in grade school. I was a finalist in a Road & Track kids’ auto design competition and traveled to the Chicago Auto Show for some kind of recognition event. Shelby was there, an intimidating figure dressed in black. I’m not sure if I said anything, but I got an autographed picture out of the deal. At the time I didn’t know much about his storied career in racing or automotive performance work – I just knew about his most famous creation, the Cobra. And that was enough to impress a young boy geeked about cars.

I’m sure you know the Cobra as well, even if you don’t know anything about its history. There’s a zillion modern copies of it on the road, and I’m sure more will be built by enthusiasts in the future. In that sense, I guess he’s kind of immortal.





Texas Karma Car-becue

10 05 2012

The Chevrolet Volt received quite a bit of negative press after one of the vehicles burst into flames late last year. Of course, the Volt specimen in question had been subjected to crash testing and then left for several days in a garage; barring negligence, the eco-mobile should not present any danger to those few souls actually interested in buying them.

While fears over the Volt’s safety have subsided, there’s a new Car of the Future in the hot seat: the Fisker Karma. First, we heard of how the $100k hybrid conked out less than 200 miles of testing, presumably a victim of glitchy software. At least the owners of non-functional Fiskers can commiserate with would-be drivers of “bricked” Tesla Roadsters – that particular all-electric sports car has a nasty habit of becoming a four-wheeled paperweight if left unattended for extended periods of time. At least those incidents only cost drivers their time (and money, in the case of the Tesla; replacement of its $40,000 battery is not covered under its warranty).

That can’t be said about the Karma’s most recently discovered design quirk, which manifested itself in a spectacular fashion last week. Read the rest of this entry »





I love it when an air compressor system comes together

9 05 2012

You’d think an air compressor system would be simple enough to set up. Actually, scratch that – you probably don’t think an air compressor system would be simple enough to set up, because you probably don’t spend much time thinking about air compressors at all.

Neither did I, really, until last summer. I decided it would be a great idea to invest in a nice 80-gallon stationary air compressor. It was supposed to be the key unlimited automotive restoration opportunities. Cutting. Drilling. Impact wrenching. Sandblasting. Painting. Nothing would be out of my reach!

Except that things didn’t really work out that way. Turns out that, while compressors are simple in principle (obnoxiously noisy motor crams a bunch of air into a beefy metal canister) there are a lot of other variables at play. Before the air goes from the canister to whatever air tool you are trying to power, it has to pass from through a complex system of lead hoses, air filters/desiccators, regulators, turbo encabulators, etc. Read the rest of this entry »








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