Freighterspotting at the Boatnerd HQ

30 05 2012

You probably didn’t know existed, let alone that it had a World Headquarters, but it is very much a real thing. Its real-world HQ is right on the St. Clair River in Port Huron – a prime location for freighter-watching (freighterspotting?).

It also happens to be a prime day trip opportunity for anyone in the Detroit Metro area. I decided to head up on my motorcycle May 14, the day before I surrendered to adulthood and started working the 9-to-5 (the main reason I haven’t been posting at all lately).

I had spent the previous night in East China Township, so I was well-positioned for a quick jaunt to Port Huron. The weather was great, and the ride was just long enough to clear up the last vestiges of my hangover. Perfect.

The HQ in all its glory

You’d think dedicated freighter-watching would appeal to a pretty small subset of the population. If it does, they all must be in Port Huron, because the Great Lakes Maritime Center was busy – and there weren’t any freighters due to pass by for over an hour. People were playing dominoes, knitting, and having business meetings/lunches; the GLMC, as it is known to insiders, must be a hotspot for Port Huron’s movers and shakers and bored senior citizens. Read the rest of this entry »


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.

So far, so good

16 05 2012

Yesterday was my first day of my internship at Autoweek. I’m happy to say that I survived. I’m heading back for more today.

Most of the day was spent on HR stuff, getting the lay of the land, and bumbling through computer systems. Normal stuff, but I’m looking forward to doing some writing. There’s a long list of summer events coming up, and always more vehicles to review…

A year ago, that making money writing about cars could be a viable career option would have never occurred to me. It still might not be a viable career option in my case – I’m not going to get ahead of myself here — but I’m that much closer.

Oh, and there’s an espresso maker in the coffee room. That’s about all I need.

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 »