One feature that automakers have teased us with and even installed on concept cars is an LED screen and camera in the place of the old-style rearview mirror. With all of the cameras placed all around cars these days, like Subaru’s EyeSight system and the various backup cameras, we are surprised this hasn’t become a reality. The assumed reasons for rearview screens not taking the place of rearview mirrors are NHTSA and DOT regulations.
Honestly, we don’t see why the NHTSA and DOT would think a hunk of glass glued to the windshield is safer than a crisp LED image from an HD camera. Then again those two government offices – as with all government offices – make strange regulations. Apparently an LED screen and camera are plenty for Audi’s future Le Mans cars, as the automaker has just announced, via a press release, that its closed LMP prototype will run with an AMOLED screen in place of the mirror and a rear-mounted camera feeding the images to the screen.
The main reasoning behind this is that the LMP prototype’s cabin is fully closed, with exception of the front windshield, so a rearview mirror would display nothing but the rear wall of the cabin. So, if this technology is good enough for racecars, why are we not seeing it installed in street cars yet? Well, we just very well might, as you likely do not remember, but the rearview mirror was not used on motor cars until Ray Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp” used one in the first Indianapolis 500, in 1911. It later became standard per NHTSA regulations for all cars to come with this item, thanks to its overwhelming success in racing.
Odds are that if this system is successful in racing that the NHTSA will adopt it, especially given the fact that rearview cameras are soon to become mandatory on all vehicle.
Click past the jump to read the full press release.
Patrick Dempsey will be dropping his doctor’s smock from Grey’s Anatomy and replacing it with a sleek pilot suit in the near future. The 46 year old actor will be making his American Le Mans Series (ALMS) debut this weekend at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca behind the wheel of an LMP2 prototype from Dempsey Racing.
Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster will be the lead drivers and will be joined by Jonny Cocker in the No. 27 Trina Solar/GNC Beverages/Motegi Racing/Dempsey Racing Judd-powered Lola B12-80 Coupe. This year, Dempsey plans to race for a part of the ALMS season, but next year he hopes for a full championship run.
"It is nothing short of an awe-inspiring experience in every respect,” said Dempsey, who will be racing a prototype sports car for the first time. "It feels familiar but so much more intense, the braking, the acceleration, cornering and power, it is all on a much more dynamic level than the GT cars I have driven.
"It’s an amazing machine and it is incredible to even have the opportunity to race in a car like this at this level, and what better track to start with than Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This race will really be a continuation of our learning and testing process only this time in front of a bigger crowd. We should be able to accomplish much more development and familiarization during an endurance race."
The race will begin at 1:30PM PDT on Saturday, May 12, 2012.
The Rondeau-built M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car is a true piece of Le Mans history, as it currently holds the title for most starts at Le Mans (10). With the amount of stress put on Le Mans cars today, this record is likely to stand for quite some time.
The M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car made its debut in 1978 in the GTP class of the Le Mans 24 Hours race with two drivers, Bernard Darniche and Jack Haran. In its debut race, the Rondeau M378, or “Old Number 1” as it was nicknamed, took a somewhat disappointing 9th place. The following year, Old Number 1 was tweaked to M379 specifications and wound up pulling in 3rd overall and 1st in the GTP class.
The Rondeau M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car saw plenty of success through the 1970s, but the 1980s were far less kind to it. As technology continued advancing, the Rondeau M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car just couldn’t keep up. It all bottomed out in this record holder’s final race, as it ran in and finished the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours race, but was not classified.
Shortly after its last race, the Rondeau M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car went on to be sold off to an American collector, who raced it in the 1998 Monterey Historics race.
If you are looking to own a piece of Le Mans history, few stack up to this car’s legacy, but is this a good item to look into purchasing when it goes to auction on May 11th through 12th?
Back in 2010, Audi unveiled a very cool Truth in 24 documentary to honor its triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And now, the company has unveiled a trailer video for the new Truth in 24 II: Every Second Counts documentary featuring their three race cars that have entered the race.
Unfortunately, two of the cars have already crashed, so there is just one R18 LMP1 fighting for the title of the world’s most famous endurance race. The car is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 TDI engine mated to a six-speed transmission unit.
Watch the follow-up film to the original Truth in 24, where the Audi Sport Racing team attempts to cross the finish line first at the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans. After watching it, we can assure you that you won’t want to wait for the full documentary.
Last month, the black cloud over Toyota Racing’s head reared up again in the form of one of its drivers crashing the TS030 Hybrid at Paul Ricard circuit bad enough to render it useless. This forced Toyota Racing to cancel the T030’s debut at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
It appears as if the black clouds have cleared up again, as Toyota Racing has announced that a new monocoque is complete and testing will resume almost immediately. This also puts the team on pace to hold true to its promise of debuting on June 16th for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
We’ll be honest in saying that we had our doubts that Toyota could get a monocoque built in time to test before the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but Toyota Racing certainly stepped up to the task and pumped out a replacement vehicle. The issue now is that the monocoque the team is testing was slated to be a spare, and now there is no spare. We’re willing to bet that the brass at TR are telling the drivers to mind their Ps and Qs while testing. According to Toyota’s press release, however, TR will be entering two T030s into 24 Hours of Le Mans, so a second monocoque must be in the works.
With only a little more than a month of testing and tinkering to do, this really leaves Toyota with very little time to really adjust the car and allow the drivers to get a feel for it. Yes, it is the same build as the original TS030, built as with all cars, there is a little variance between each build.
We’re all pulling for Toyota to make a clean return to Le Mans from here on out.
Click past the jump to read Toyota’s press release.
Toyota’s road racing days pretty much grounded to a halt when corporate headquarters pulled the automaker from the F1 program after the 2009 racing season. Since 2009, Toyota Motor Company has shown improvements, as buyers began returning after the car-buying slump ended and the safety issues that plagued the automaker were rectified. This allowed Toyota to start to experiment with road racing again and develop the TS030 Hybrid.
The TS030 Hybrid had its debut race set for the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 5th, 2012. Things were looking good for the 3.4-liter V-8-powered TS030 Hybrid until its most recent test run. An undisclosed driver was testing out the TS030 at Paul Ricard and must have had a fairly horrific crash, as Toyota Racing Team President announced that the team could not build a new monocoque – chassis for those that don’t speak race-a-nese – in time for the May 5th debut.
Most people would think “Why not just use a second body; they all have spares, right?" Well, when you are easing your toes back into the racing pool, like Toyota is, you can’t really afford to go blowing millions of dollars building and testing multiple cars. In the future, yes, they will have multiple monocoques, but for now there was only one.
According to the press release, a new monocoque will be ready in time for the June running at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
A few things come to mind here. First off, was Toyota planning on arriving at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps with only one monocoque? Secondly, how much of a bum does the driver that thrashed their only vehicle feel right about now? Maybe that’s why they kept wraps on which driver it was that wrecked it.
Well, here’s to a speedy rebuild, Toyota, and we hope to see you in June, sans the black cloud floating over your head.
Hit the jump for the official presser from Toyota Racing and a cool video of the TS030 testing.
The Mazda 787B already holds esteem as one of the most iconic race cars in history, highlighted by its successful win at the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours race. That win make it the first and only Japanese race car to win the prestigious endurance race.
For a race car that holds so much esteem, the folks over at Turn 10 Studios decided to bring the 787B into their game as part of their February ALMS Car Pack.
In this video, we catch up with some of the people responsible for bringing the 787B into the virtual world. More than just the sheer sight of the green-and-orange racer romping Forza 4, the 787B’s defining quality will always be its four-rotor Wankel engine, the source of what Turn 10 Studios says is the loudest engine they’ve ever recorded.
For something that often falls in the realm of hyperbole, the 787B has a legitimate claim to that title. It’s so loud that it actually beat the TVR Cerbera Speed 12, a car that packed a sizzling 960 horsepower and 650 lb/ft of torque.
Check out the video and find out the lengths Turn 10 Studios had to go through to fully capture the banshee-like screams of the Mazda 787B. Better yet, turn up the volume and listen to it yourselves!
Very few of us ever actually exceed 100 mph in our lives and even fewer ever exceed 200 mph, so there is only a small group of people that can actually explain what it feels like to drive in excess of 200 mph. One of people that can give us first-hand accounts is five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Derek Bell. Thanks to Motor Sport Magazine’s monthly podcast, we now have an avenue to hear him speak about his high speed antics.
This entertaining interview had several high spots; the first one was his recollection of driving a Porsche 962 at an eye-popping 238 mph, in the rain. He begins by calling driving over 200 mph a surreal experience and saying it’s like being on another world. He then talks about how the rain almost turns into a solid wall of water that you simply cannot see through. He tops it all off by saying “Fortunately, you go around a kink and you can slow down… ‘Cause you’re at the end.” He then continues to chuckle and call the entire experience “awful,” “but you did it.”
When asked what his favorite circuit was, he strangely said “Spa,” referring to Circuit De Spa-Francorchamps, which once featured the feared and once boycotted Masta Kink – a hairpin turn after a long straightaway. See Bell tackle the Spa Circuit and the Masta Kink in the video above.
Bell then spoke about his scariest moment, which also occurred at Spa while driving the Gulf-sponsored Mirage. During testing, he came around the Masta Kink at 190 mph and in the middle of the track was his rookie teammate’s red Lola racecar, obviously broken down or spun out, and he had nowhere to go. He says “To this day, I don’t know what I did. I guess I hit the brakes,” and somehow the Mirage managed to correct itself. After that he pulled into the pit stop, despite having more testing time to go.
The entire podcast is a great listen, if you have an hour to spare. Check it out by clicking here!
Of the few lucky and skilled enough to compete in motor racing, the feeling of getting your juices up during a race is something that very few things in this world can replicate. But for the rest of us that can’t handle a race car, watching races live or on television poses as the next best thing.
And then there’s GoPro, a company that wants to redefine the way we watch races. In these videos, GoPro attaches their tiny little HD Hero2 cameras on the ALMS race cars piloted by Gunnar Jeannette and Ken Dobson, showing us what kind of high-action racing we all should be watching on our screens.
The camera angles are amazing, for lack of a better way to describe it. The multitude of camera angles give us a totally new way of appreciating the thrills of racing, right down to the angle experienced by the pit lane mechanics.
Check out the videos GoPro released and there’s a good chance, you’ll start clamoring for these kind of up-close views on the next televised races you watch.
The best-selling luxury performance car in the U.S., the Chevrolet Corvette, has finally been inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame after six decades of proving what it can do on the track. The induction is a great birthday present for the Corvette, since 2013 marks its 60th anniversary.
Corvette first competed at Sebring in 1956, and 231 Corvettes have since competed in the Twelve Hours of Sebring race. Corvette has racked up an impressive 24 class wins in this legendary race, with seven of these won by Corvette Racing, the most successful team in the history of the American Le Mans Series. In Sunday’s 60th anniversary race, Corvette Racing placed second and third in the GT Class.
“We are thrilled that Sebring has recognized the success of the Corvette on the race track by inducting it into the hall of fame,” said Russ Clark, Chevrolet marketing director for Performance Cars.
“Even more important than the awards and race wins are the benefits to our production vehicles as a result of our racing programs,” said Clark. “We have been successful at transferring racing technology to the street, especially in our high-performance vehicles such as the Corvette ZR1, Z06 and our carbon fiber models, including aerodynamic, powertrain, chassis, braking, safety and design features.”