Ron Howard has been more involved with racing in the last year than he probably ever expected he would. He just completed filming his movie based on F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, which included plenty of racing, to say the least, including a controlled recreation of Lauda’s famed Nürburgring crash.
Now Howard is taking a hands-on approach to racing, as he has agreed to drive in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. No, he’s not hopping behind the wheel of a racecar, but rather he is hopping in the BigMachineRecords.com pace car and leading the way to the start/finish line.
Jeff Belskus made it clear that Howard’s involvement in the filming of “Rush” had a lot to do with NASCAR inviting Howard to drive the pace car when he said “Ron has become immersed in motorsports’ culture and history through the filming of ’Rush,’ so he’s an ideal person to pace the field for one of NASCAR’s biggest races at ’The Greatest Race Course in the World.”
So, the moral of this story is that if you are not skilled enough to make it into NASCAR, just take a left turn into the filmmaking business – that has to be easier to get into than NASCAR – make a movie about racing, and watch the pace car invites come rolling in. Easy enough, right? Yeah, that’s called sarcasm...
We wish Ron the best and hope he has a safe journey around the track. You can catch Howard in his pace car on Sunday, July 29th.
Remember the days when car racing was “Car Racing.” The rules were loosely written and even looser followed, and it was considered more entertainment than sport. Those were the good old days, when the purpose was to build a car faster than the others and hire a driver that can keep the thing on the tarmac. Those days all went away in the 1980s, as all of the major professional racing circuits – NASCAR, Indy, F1, NHRA – turned these entertainment spectacles into damn sporting events.
While we love our sports – I for one am obsessed with NFL football – the turning of driving a car fast into a sport led to the injection of fairness and parity. This led to restrictor plates, horsepower limits, and barred modifications. It even led to drivers starting to whine and boo-hoo about a little paint scraping… Well, if you are ready to see some racing in its truest form, take a look-see at the Global RallyCross Championship.
Sure, it piggybacks along with the aforementioned whiny racing “sports,” but it couldn’t be much farther from these sports in terms of real life competitive racing. The rules are few, the paint trading is a plenty, and there is no one crying foul when a fellow driver pulls a pit maneuver on your car’s tail end. He just pops it back in gear and thinks “why didn’t I see that guy there,” then gets ‘em back.
To boot, there are freaking bike-style ramps and barricades in the middle of the track to leap over or drive around. There are even shortcuts on each track. Granted the shortcuts are typically more difficult to drive through, but they are there. The only rules regarding the engine is the fitment of an intake restrictor and that the engine block must meet the manufacturer’s specification. This means you can bolt on as many ponies as you like, just don’t modify the block. Ah, you’ve got to love it.
Check out the above video to catch a glimpse of the awesomeness that is GRC!
Think back about seven years or so and imagine a Ford F-150 circling the track as the official pace car for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It’s pretty easy if you imagine that truck being the SVT or supercharged Harley-Davidson model. You can’t really picture a V-6 model though, could you?
Well, thanks to Ford’s ingenious EcoBoost, a V-6 pace truck is not only plausible, but it is actually happening. A six-pot-powered 2013 Ford F-150 FX4 4x4 will be the pace car for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. Of course, said V-6 has a pair of turbochargers strapped to it, pushing its total horsepower to 365 and the torque to 434 foot-pounds. Behind the wheel of this beast is no professional driver. Nope, it’s none other than Ford’s American president, Mark Fields.
This pace truck is all decked out in a fresh-off-the-assembly-line red paint and also boasts a bold new grille, HID headlights, and a graphics package specifically for the Sprint Cup race. This also opens the door for a special edition 2013 Ford F-150 Pace Truck edition. This is especially possible, as Ford is definitely not shy with pry barring special editions into its lineup.
Chances are that we will only see this special F-150 FX4 a handful of times throughout the race, but we will likely hear about it in F-150 commercials for the next 12 months, or so. We wonder how Chevy plans to counter this one, because we all know they will somehow…
You can see the F-150 twice this year, once on June 17th at 12:00 p.m. for the Quicken Loans 400. This selection of the F-150 to pace the groups marks the third straight year that a Ford model has been the pace car for the June race in Michigan and the second straight year that Mark Fields is the driver.
Click past the jump to read Ford’s official presser. Full story
The National Association for Stock Car Racing, or NASCAR for short, is the largest sanctioning body of stock car racing in the United States, with 75,000,000 fans tuning in to see which racer will run away with the first place podium finish. The 2012 Sprint Cup Series, one of the three largest racing series sanctioned by NASCAR, just wrapped up its eighth race on April 22nd, so with 28 races left in the series, Quicken Loans thought it would be a great time to have a rundown down of some NASCAR basics. Think of it as a NASCAR for Dummies, but we’ll sugar it up by calling it NASCAR 101.
The basics of the Sprint Cup Series consist of 43 drivers, 36 point races, 23 tracks, 12 finalists, and only one man to call a champion. Aside from that, this infographic will explain the nine flags that communicate any needed information to the drivers, - yeah, it’s more than just the white and black checkered flag - the breakdown of all the tracks, and some more basic number breakdowns for the series.
From how many people make up a pit crew (seven) to how many brownies are sold during Speedweeks (21,900), this infographic will give you everything you need to know to settle in next to the screaming guy with the beer can helmet. Ahhhh, the joys of racing events.
Check out the rest of the infographic to get more helpful information and remember to check back with us for the next installment in our Car Infographics series.
In 2010, NASCAR held a summit with representatives of Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Toyota. They wanted to talk about returning brand identity to the cars on the track. You see, over the years, NASCAR race cars have strayed farther and farther from the appearance of the cars they are based on.
NASCAR originally appealed to manufacturers with a "Race on Sunday, sell on Monday" philosophy. But now when you tune-in to a Sprint Cup series race, you will basically see 43 of the same race car with vinyl stickers to let you know what car brand it is supposed to represent. NASCAR is now trying to change all that. They’ve relaxed some of their very strict rules for body design, allowing manufacturers to design the cars to look more like their road-going counterparts.
One car that has already released a rendering of it’s new body is the 2013 NASCAR Dodge Charger. Thanks to the new, more lenient rules, this car looks awesome. With the signature Charger character lines on the side, this race car looks more like the street version than ever. Sam Hornish, Jr. got to test the new NASCAR Charger at a closed test earlier this year at the Homestead-Miami Speedway that was attended by all four manufacturers.
“The car looks the best out of any of the new cars, that’s for sure — nice, sharp lines — and you can see a lot of the street car in the race car." said Hornish "It brings the Charger’s identity back onto the racetrack.”
The 2013 NASCAR Dodge Charger will be unveiled March 11, 2012 in the Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, just before the start of the Kobalt Tools 400. It will compete in its first Sprint Cup series race at next year’s Daytona 500.
UPDATE 03/12/11: The Dodge Charger NASCAR race car was officially unveiled over the weekend. Check out all the photos of the car in the gallery below!
Let it be known that we love ourselves some Dodge Charger. There’s something undeniably cool about the car that belies its undeniable performance capabilities.
Recently, we found out that a special 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit, the very same one that patrols our streets as a police cruiser, will serve as the official pace car for both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series races in Phoenix on March 3rd and 4th, 2012. Unlike some of the other pace cars we’ve seen in the past, the Charger Pursuit will be dressed in a matte black finish with matching white accents on the body and a full police livery.
We don’t expect the Charger Pursuit Pace Car to carry the full boat of law-enforcement technology that the police cars carry, but to see one actually taking serving as a pace car for a NASCAR race is beyond cooler words.
We don’t know if the Charger Pursuit Pace Car will carry a 3.6-liter V6 engine that has 292 horsepower or the more powerful 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine that produces 370 ponies. Either way, it’s going to be a real treat to watch the Dodge sports car flex its muscles while leading the pack in Phoenix.
Danica Patrick hit the wall hard during the very last lap of Thursday’s first qualifying race for the Daytona 500. She was holding the number ten spot with two corners to go when Aric Almirola’s Ford veered left into her No.10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, sending her sliding to the inside wall. She hit the wall so hard that her car briefly left the ground.
“It felt pretty big,” Patrick said. “I don’t know what it looked like, but it felt pretty big.”
“It happened really quick,” she said. “When it gets down to the end of the race, everybody’s on each other’s doors really close. That’s what happens. Unfortunately, I was part of it.”
“We were looking to finish honestly,” Patrick said. “I felt comfortable. It was just a matter of getting into the right line with the right people. I’m just bummed out. We only had two corners to go.”
She climbed out of the wreckage uninjured, thanks in part to her taking her hands off the steering wheel just before impact. Wrist and hand injuries are very common in NASCAR when a driver crashes while tightly gripping the wheel. Despite the crash, Patrick still finished in 16th position.
In some good news, Danica returned to Daytona International Speedway on Friday in her backup car and won the pole position for Saturday’s Nationwide race. This makes her only the second woman to ever win a pole in NASCAR’s 64-year history. Patrick started her NASCAR Sprint Cup debut in 29th position at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26.
UPDATE 02/27/2012: For the first time in 54 years, the Daytona 500 has been postponed due to some scattered showers that moved in around race time. The race was supposed to be moved to today at noon, but the weatherman put a stop to that as well. If rain doesn’t get in the way again, the Daytona 500 will take place tonight at 7pm ET.
Ford unveiled the new generation Fusion in early January 2011 at the Detroit Auto Show and, right on cue, it has been followed by the NASCAR version. This is, in fact, the third time Ford has simultaneously launched production and NASCAR versions of a new model. The first dual launch came in 1968, with the sleek fastback Ford Torino and then again in 2006 with the Fusion.
The NASCAR Ford Fusion features a very aggressive stance from the outside and the inside, but keeps the proportions found in the production Fusion. There are brand and design cues on the side of the vehicle and an identifiable front end grill with the distinctive look of a Ford.
"This is a seminal moment in the sport where we had a chance to get it right once again and make sure the race cars are race versions of street cars. And I am proud because I believe we have accomplished just that," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. "The 2013 Fusion is a stunning car and the 2013 NASCAR Fusion is even more stunning and I can’t wait to see it perform on the track and connect with race fans."
The new NASCAR Ford Fusion will be enduring its testing season for the entire year and will then have its racing debut at the 2013 Daytona 500 in February.
UPDATE 05/23/12: Ford Racing has unveiled the first livery of the Fusion NASCAR Sprint Cup race car. It bears the red and white colors of Motorcraft, which, if you didn’t know, is Ford’s spare parts division. Check out the Fusion’s new digs leading up to its maiden NASCAR voyage this season.
The upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup series races at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Richmond International Raceway will get a pinkish treat when a specially themed Chevrolet Camaro SS will serve as the official pace car for the two events.
Decked in an eye-catching pink color finish with all the matching decals, this special edition Camaro will be used in the continuous effort of raising awareness against breast cancer.
While there doesn’t appear to be any performance modifications done on the American muscle car, the significance of its participation in the Sprint Cup will come in the form of $200 donations made by Chevrolet for each caution lap the pink pace car does in the two races.
In society’s continuing battle with the deadly disease, Chevrolet has been one of the fiercest supporters in the fight against breast cancer. “For 100 years, Chevy has been helping people along the journey of life in countless ways,” said Alan Batey, the company’s vice president for Sales and Service.
"Together with our race fans, Chevrolet wants to help the American Cancer Society create a world with less cancer, more birthdays and longer journeys.”
As it stands, the Camaro SS is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 412 horsepower and 408 lb/ft of torque. Impressive numbers to say the least; but in this particular case, powertrains and engine outputs aren’t all that important compared to the symbolism surrounding the pace car’s pink paint finish.
There’s no denying that motorsports is still a male-dominated sport, but over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of skilled and able women drivers participate in varying levels of competitive racing. And while some have been more successful than others, the growing number of lady racers has become a fresh of breath air on a sport that has long been considered a "man’s league".
From the Danica Patricks to the Jodie Kidds and the Susie Stoddarts, there’s no shortage of talent for the fairer sex when it comes to sitting behind the wheel of a racer and going bumper-to-bumper with some of the best male racers in the world. With all these names already in the fold, we come to Maryeve Dufault, an up-and-coming racer that’s scheduled to make her NASCAR debut in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal this weekend. Though not as popular as some of her veteran contemporaries, the Quebec-born Dufault has exhibited great skills as a race car driver through her stint in the ARCA feeder series. But more than her talents on the track, Dufault has also been turning heads recently because, in so many words, she’s hot. As in really, really hot. As in model-caliber hot with a list of credits to her name, including a stint with the New York Euphoria team in the Lingerie Bowl and on The Price is Right.
We don’t know exactly how Dufault’s going to do in her baptism of fire in the world of NASCAR, but we certainly wouldn’t mind seeing her in action behind the wheel of a stock car or, you know, that whole modeling thing she does.