road trip

road trip

  Everyone deserves a vacation now and again, so take advantage of that four-wheeled machine you have parked in the driveway with a good old fashioned road trip. Be it long or short, road trips are one of the best ways to get to a number of destinations in one trip. Plus, it's much cheaper than buying a plane ticket nowadays, especially if you take to the road with an electric vehicle.

The list of things that bring me joy in this world is a long one. I enjoy tire smoke , nice scotch, sunny days, road trips and so much more. Way up near the top of this list is fresh cherry pie. It just so happens that the woman I married is one of the greatest pie chefs the world has ever seen. The big issue is the best place to get fresh cherries is in Door County, Wisconsin; about 1,000 miles from home. As fate would have it, Mazda gave me a buzz to ask if I would be interested in taking a road trip in a 2014 Miata .

I couldn’t think of anything else that sounded better than 1,000 miles of topless fun on the way to a fresh and tasty pie.

The trip wouldn’t be all fun and games. Thanks to conflicting work schedules I only had a four-day window to make the trip happen, and most of the trip to Wisconsin would be in an overnight blast. It was late Wednesday evening as I packed the trunk full of clothing, camera equipment and an empty cooler for my cherries. The wife slid into the passenger seat, I lowered the top, and we set off into the night. 1,000 miles is a long distance, but the Miata is a willing dance partner and my desire for pie gives me strength.

Hit the jump to read about my epic search for pie with a Japanese roadster

A massive robot swings its single arm left, and picks up the entire shell of a Hyundai Sonata, lifting it skyward, twisting it around, and setting down perfectly in place on a jig where more robots angrily attack it with welding guns. Sparks fly as more pieces find their way into the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata.

As you may have read in my review of the all-new 2015 Sonata, my recent time behind the wheel of Hyundai’s newest car also came with a quick spin around the automaker’s Alabama assembly plant. The behind-the-scenes tour weaved its way past massive robots, around long conveyer belts, and over thousands of square feet of floor space all dedicated to building cars.

Scenes like that above happen all over the three-million square-foot facility, around the clock and every day of the week. The Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant is responsible for making nearly half of every Elantra and Sonata sedan wandering American roads and every single Sonata Hybrid sold in the States. Each and every day, another 1,000 new Hyundais roll off the assembly line thanks to the work of some 3,000 workers and over 400 robots.

Click past the jump for an inside look into the HMMA Assembly Plant

If you watched the live podcast this morning, you are well aware that I am heading to Miami to take part in this year’s Gumball 3000. As you read this I am likely in the air on my way to the sandy beaches and hot cars of Southern Florida.

While there are more than one hundred cars on this year’s grid, the one I will be spending my time with is a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder . The car and team are owned by an online dating company called Anastasia Date, and two lovely ladies from the company are going to be the main pilots of the car on its 1500+/- journey to New York City.

The trip officially begins on Thursday, but there are lots of things to see and do on Wednesday, so expect to hear a lot from me.

After the jump I have included every social outlet I will be using, if you are interested in all the different ways to keep up with my live coverage. I have also included a photo of the lovely ladies who will be piloting the car along most of its journey. I was even nice enough to include some info about some of the other cool cars that are in the rally. Enjoy.

Feel free to Tweet in my general direction if you have any questions or comments about the car, the team, or the event. I may even try to do a live stream chat from the car if the cell signal holds up. Anything is possible.

Check the jump for the best ways to keep up with Moe during the rally, see some pretty cool people, and learn more about some of the teams.

There are few things in this country more American than a NASCAR race. Sure, apple pie and baseball might outrank it, but neither of those can compete with stock cars thundering around a track at 200 mph while continually riding on the brink of catastrophe as they race just inches away from a concrete wall and other drivers gunning to win. So when the opportunity arose to become deeply immersed in the culture during the recent All-Star race, I jumped at the chance.

It all started a few months ago with an email invite from Toyota. It read something along the lines of, “how about joining us at the NASCAR All-Star race and tours of the Joe Gibbs Racing Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame?” My reply went something like, “Heck yeah, I’ll be there!”

I decided to skip the crowded airports for a 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport and a seven-hour drive through the heart of the eastern seaboard. I viewed this almost like a pilgrimage; setting out on a roadtrip for a destination of racing importance located in the rolling hills of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Once on the road, my choice of chariot was immediately affirmed. Unlike my last Lexus experience, the front seat was perfectly molded, padded, and bolstered. The more I drove, the more the car seemed to shrink around me, making tight maneuvering a thing of ease. The stout 3.5-liter V-6 offered plenty of grunt while the tight steering and sport-tuned suspension made each corner a memorable event.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport and about my time spent at Joe Gibbs Racing Center

Few companies cater to the petrol-head quite like Porsche . Sure Ferrari provides excitement, and Lamborghini is the maestro of theater, but Porsche has cornered the market on feel and precision.

Beyond that, Porsche also seems to demonstrate a peculiar, un-German ability to create cars that are very pretty. Not the sensual beauty the Italians have mastered, but still pretty.

Late last year the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh decided that Porsche had done so much in the field of design, that it deserved to be recognized. They then began the laborious task of collecting an eclectic assortment of metal from the brand’s storied history; from the Type 64 of 1938 up to the 911 GTS R Hybrid race car .

As a man with a slight fetish for German autos, the exhibit intrigued me. The NCMA is only a six-hour drive from my house, through some of the most beautiful roads and scenery in the U.S., and I had just been granted the keys to a 2014 Porsche Cayman S .

It was a recipe that sounded like a Porsche enthusiast’s perfect weekend.

Read on to find out more about my journey, the Cayman S and the NCMA exhibit.

Mini owners, pack your bags, get your car serviced and then get your butt to San Francisco; the Mini Takes the States road rally is back! This biennial event is the largest official Mini road rally covering 18 states, 15 cities and more than 5,000 miles. The trip will begin on Saturday July 26 in San Francisco California and will end two full weeks later on Sunday August 10 in Boston.

Along the way, you will get the chance to see much of our great country as the journey winds West into Colorado, then cuts south into Texas. From there you head towards Memphis, Tennessee and up to Chicago finishing with a northern detour to Buffalo, NY and finally arriving Boston. There are several more stops scattered through the middle as well.

While the cost for the trip will be what you make of it, Mini has thankfully made the entry and registration fees decidedly affordable at $45 per person with kids under 12 and all pets being freebies. If you decide that a 14-day cross-country vacation is not quite your cup of tea, Mini happily invites you to join for any portion of the festivities you prefer.

Whether you own a Cooper Hardtop , Clubman , Countryman or any other member of the Mini brand, join in and have fun.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Takes The States Event.

We cover a lot of automotive-related material here at TopSpeed. From the latest and greatest vehicles with promises of fast quarter-mile times, insane 0-to-60 sprints , and the occasional gravel-shredding off-roader , it’s all about the newest and fastest.

But sometimes, you just have to slow down and enjoy the drive — to bask in every last mile of a pure driving experience in a pure sports car . That’s exactly what one man set out to do.

Scott Fisher and his beloved 1967 Datsun Fairlady Roadster are on a meandering mission to travel the United States in a clockwise fashion, while soaking in the experience on the timeless journey. No schedules needed.

Fisher started his epic journey last spring from his home in Las Vegas after selling his manufacturing business that he ran for 16 long years. It has since taken him over 30,000 miles through the American heartland, rolling over local highways and byways, while avoiding major routes and interstates “like the plague.” And it was all done in his beautiful ’67 Fairlady.

“I knew I needed to kinda’ get out, and unwind, and get my mojo back,” the 45-year-old man says. His journey has taken him north through the Pacific Northwest and over through the flyover states. Fisher’s goal was to stay up north during the summer months to avoid the extreme heat and sun exposure. “[It’s] allowed me to keep the top down, maybe 80 percent of the time.”

Click past the jump to keep reading about Scott’s amazing travels

The Italian Stampede sounds as if it is a horrific running of wild bulls that includes lots of carnage and body parts. Well, in reality, it is a wonderful collection of various Italian supercars “racing” from Los Angeles to Monterey, California. Why Monterey? Well, that just so happens to be where the Concorso Italiano is being held.

This year, there is a special entrant leading the pack and that is a 2006 Lamborghini Murcielago wrapped in matte pink from front to rear and top to bottom. So why in the world is this Lamborghini all in pink? Well, the Lamborghini Club America is holding a Gala on Saturday to help support breast cancer awareness and this car is to help draw attention to both the Gala and the seriousness of breast cancer awareness.

We spoke with Andrew Romanowski, the President of the Lamborghini Club America and owner of this wrapped Lambo, and he let us know that it was not only the Lamborghini Club America involved in this great benefit, but Al & Ed’s Autosound and Protective Film Solutions also had a large hand in making this car a possibility.

While we had him on the phone, Andrew let us in on a little more info about the car. It is a 2006 model with an aftermarket exhaust system. We didn’t get into power numbers, as he was at the Concorso Italiano and we didn’t want to keep him from the droves of folks asking about this fantastic car and cause, but we assume this system would add about 10 to 15 extra ponies to its already stout 6.2-liter V-12 engine that pumps out 580 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 479 pound-feet of torque at 5,400 rpm.

Hats off to the folks at Lamborghini Club America, Al & Ed’s, and Protective Film Solutions for creating such an awesome car and supporting a great cause. You can see a video of the wrap being put on after the jump.

We have seen the competition between the 2013 Mustang GT500 and the Camaro ZL1 get exhausted in the last few weeks, so seeing yet another comparison doesn’t really interest us much. Then again, if that competition is happening live on a public track and it is between two competitors that have been jawing at each other via forum flame posts, well, we suddenly become extremely interested.

So the story begins with us taking a short trip from the TopSpeed offices down to the Miami Homestead racetrack for a day full of watching various cars tackle the track. We stumbled upon this situation of a stock 2013 GT500 with under 1,000 miles on its clock and 650 ponies under the hood, and a Camaro ZL1, which was modified by Torq and is touted as a true racecar, ready to go head-to-head to settle their online feud of which is better.

The Camaro ZL1 admittedly had supercharger overheating issues in the past, so Torq installed a high capacity water pump to help aid in the cooling. Apparently, Torq overestimated the capacity of the new pump before heading to Miami and the blazing hot South Florida sun resulted in the engine overheating. Yeah, Torq forgot an important fact, if you install a high-capacity water pump, you need to raise the amount of coolant stored in the cooling system.

Ironically, Torq is quoted as saying that pitting the GT500 against this modified ZL1 is “like bringing a knife to a gun fight” and we agree, because the GT500 is better known as a drag-style car and the ZL1 truly is a better road handler. Let’s see if Torq can rectify this issue and get us a good race to see.

06/03/12 Update from Torq: Okay, so it appears as if our article ruffled some feathers in regards to the guys involved in the race and they made it clear that there were a few misunderstandings in our article. We will further clarify what we were intending to demonstrate, as well as include some of the other details that Torq has kindly provided us.

First and foremost the statement that the ZL1 is more of a true racecar than the GT500 was not intended to be taken as a statement by Torq. This is the common consensus of the automotive industry, as the ZL1 is a best suited on a road track, whereas the GT500 is better on the drag strip, though both perform well on either track style. This has nothing to deal with any modifications performed on either car, but rather a statement of the fact around each stock model.

According to a Torq rep, the GT500 is not as stock as we thought it was. Turns out the GT500 is boasting a cold air intake and a performance ECU tune. Torq claims that this puts the GT500 up to 740 to 750 horsepower. And, yes, we rounded the GT500 down to 650 horsepower, when it is in fact 662 ponies. Also according to Torq, the ZL1 is at a drastic horsepower disadvantage, which we, of course, expect, given the factory performance differences.

It also turns out that Torq actually did attempt to compensate for the addition coolant flow by adding in an aftermarket heat exchanger that adds about two additional gallons to the cooling capacity and experimenting with several auxiliary coolant reservoirs, without success. Unfortunately, Torq did not specify why the ZL1 was running hot.

In closing, we are not taking side with either car. We were excited to see this type of real-life comparison take place and unfortunately, it did not. So hopefully you guys can get this heating issue worked out and back onto the track.

On an aside, you can catch the ZL1 in an upcoming issue of GM High Tech, so it is very clear that these guys are no amateurs.

Update #3 from RevanRacing

The GT500 did not have a full blown aftermarket cold air intake but a "factory" ford racing part that is known as a resonator eliminator and makes the supercharger whine louder. The car did have a tune estimated at around 60+ horsepower.

No doubt we will here more about the Torq ZL1 fight against RevanRacing GT500 in the near future because if there is something we have learned, it is that loosing is not an option for any of them.

The Gumball 3000 is back for its 13th rendition in 2012 and it guarantees to be just as wild and crazy as it has always been. The 2012 Gumball 3000, for those that do not know, is a roughly 3,000-mile rally that begins in New York, heads into Canada, and eventually ends up in Los Angeles, all while hitting five check points between New York and L.A.

At each checkpoint, the entire group gets together and throws one massive party with the key party coming at the very end in L.A. Though the Gumball 3000 is touted as a race, it is more of a leisurely drive that features a wide array of celebrities and all types of awesome cars, from the downright powerful and sexy to the economical and environmentally friendly.

This year’s Gumball 3000 is set to kickoff on Friday at noon and is in no way lacking celebrity appearances and tons of flashy rides.

Click past the jump to read more about the Gumball 3000, as well as the cars and celebrities making appearances.


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