Don Panoz Legacy and Influence In the World of Cars And Motorsport
I will start what can only be considered as a eulogy for the late Donald Don Panoz, who died on September, 11 at his home in Duluth, Georgia with an official statement from Panoz LLC:
"Possibly most widely celebrated for saving sports car racing in North America or inventing the dermatological patch, ironically so for those that knew him and his smoking habits, the technology behind the nicotine patch, Panoz was a man known for questioning the norm. If someone told him ‘no,’ he told them ‘yes.’ This was the personality and the motivation behind the man, that can safely be said, has left a legacy of success and technological developments, not just in one industry, but across many."
Fast and Furious 9 Starts Filming on April 20, 2019
A day after Dwayne Johnson announced the start of production of Hobbs and Shaw comes another announcement related to the Fast and Furious movie franchise: Fast and Furious 9 will start production on April 20, 2019. Not much is known about the movie’s plot, but it is tentatively scheduled to hit theaters a year later in the spring of 2020.
Burt Reynolds, Star of “Smokey and the Bandit”, Has Passed Away at 82
Known for his charm, sex appeal, and swagger, not to mention his famous mustache, Burt Reynolds was one of those actors that was just impossible not to like. Today, Reynolds passed away after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 82.
Born in southern Georgia and later ending up in Florida, Reynolds’ early life revolved around sports, earning a football scholarship to Florida State University. However, following a series of injuries, Reynolds diverted his attention to a career in acting.
Early roles included a spot in the TV series “Gunsmoke,” but Reynolds is best known for his performances in major films like “Deliverance,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” and “Boogie Nights.” Reynolds also directed and produced throughout his career.
However, for us here at TopSpeed, “Smokey and the Bandit” is our go-to memory for Reynolds. Released in 1977, the film is an action comedy featuring the Pontiac Trans-Am, and depicts an illegal high-speed run to deliver beer from Texas to Atlanta in just 28 hours. Bo “Bandit” Darville (played by Reynolds) takes up the challenge, but after picking up the attractive hitchhiker Carrie (Sally Field), Bandit finds himself running from Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason).
We’ll definitely be rewatching that classic very soon.
Richard Hammond Supposedly Gassed and Robbed in Saint-Tropez Villa
The family of The Grand Tour host Richard Hammond was reportedly the targets of a burglary while they were vacationing at Saint-Tropez, in France. According to the Sunday Express, Hammond, his wife Mindy, daughter Willow, and 12 other people were staying at a luxury villa in the posh coastal town on the French Riviera when intruders broke into their house and stole money and valuables, all while Hammond and the rest of the houseguests were sleeping.
The U.K. Still Loves Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May
Despite changing networks — ok, Amazon isn’t a traditional network — and continents, the trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May are still massively popular in the U.K. That much was proven by a report from British broadcasting regulator Ofcom, which revealed that the second season of The Grand Tour was the second-most streamed show in the U.K. The only show that beat it happens to be a 24-year old sitcom about buddies that ended its run 14 years ago. Outside of that, The Grand Tour’s popularity in the trio’s old stomping grounds is a good sign that their fans haven’t left their side.
American Pickers Discovered Aerosmith’s International Metro Tour Van!
American Pickers hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz scored the haul of a lifetime when they stumbled onto the original tour van of American rock band Aerosmith. The van in question is a 1964 International Harvester Metro Van, and apparently, it’s been sitting and rotting on a piece of property near the town of Chesterfield in western Massachusetts all these years. The van is completely authentic as Aerosmith founding member Ray Tabano confirmed after visiting the property himself during the same episode of the History Channel show.
NASCAR Boss Arrested For DUI and Narcotics Possession
NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France was arrested over the weekend for driving under the influence. The man who’s been heading the auto racing company failed a field sobriety test after he was caught running a stop sign in his Lexus. France had a blood-alcohol level that was more than twice the legal limit.
Fast and Furious Star Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock Gifts His Stunt Double a Jacked-Up F-150
We all know how generous and humble Dwayne Johnson is, and here’s another instance to prove the same. The owner of the ‘People’s Elbow’ gifted a handsome, jacked-up Ford F-150 to his stunt double and cousin, Tanoai Reed. The two have been working together for the last 17 years, starting with Dwayne’s The Scorpion King in 2002.
Sergio Marchionne’s Greatest Hits
The sudden and unexpected death of Sergio Marchionne shook the auto industry to its core. In a business that prominently features larger-than-life personalities, Marchionne was a giant among men, a visionary whose bold creativity and unrelenting determination helped turn the fortunes of Chrysler from the brink of bankruptcy into one of the world’s most respected auto brands. It’s a devastating loss, but it also gives us a moment to reflect on the career of a man who was never afraid to buck trends and take chances. There’s no shortage of greatest hits in the Sergio Marchionne collection, and it is with utmost respect that we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments in the life of a truly memorable man.
Sergio Marchionne, Savior of Chrysler, Has Passed Away at 66
Sergio Marchionne, the man who saved Chrysler from going belly up during the 2009 recession, has passed away at the age of 66. He was recently admitted to the hospital for routine should surgery but took a turn for the worst shortly thereafter. Reports came in early in the week that he had been placed on life support without expectation of recovering. He passed away shortly thereafter, leaving behind two sons and a legacy of hard work and dedication that can never be forgotten.
“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man, and friend is gone," John Elkann, chairman of FCA, said in a statement.
Those are grim words, no doubt. Earlier in the week, FCA, Ferrari, and CNH Industrial took steps to replace him and announce that he would be unable to work. Now that he’s gone, it’s important to remember him for what he was – a dedicated worker. Reports show that he worked nearly non-stop. He took over Chrysler with no cash down during the Great Recession of 2009 and managed to turn it around, saving 300,000 jobs in the process. He even initiated the first-ever no-strike pledge with the UAW and brought FCA brands up to par with benefits and pay familiar to only familiar to those working at Toyota and Honda. He made seemingly constant trips between Italy and Detroit.
Ken Lewenza, President of Canadian Auto Workers, met with Marchionne in 2009 and had something very interesting to say:
“He looked like he just got off a 20-hour shift, and he probably had,”
He never seemed to stop, and he requested the same from his executives, and it drove some of them away, but those who stayed grew into positions they didn’t think were possible. And, that’s exactly what it took to keep a brand like FCA afloat in one of the darkest times in U.S. automotive history. With Marchionne laid to eternal rest, it’s up to Mike Manley, the former head of the Jeep Division to keep the company alive and moving at warp speed. Manley took over just this week once it was discovered that Marchionne had taken a turn for the worst. As CEO of Ferrari, he was replaced by John Elkann, former Fiat Chrysler chairman.
At this point, there’s nothing else to say and nothing to speculate. A good, hard-working man has passed away, and our hearts go out to his family and all those that worked so closely with him. May he rest in peace.
I Am Paul Walker Documentary Set To Premiere Next Month
The long-awaited documentary chronicling the life of the late Paul Walker is set to premiere on August 9. The documentary, titled “I Am Paul Walker,” chronicles the life of the late movie star who died in a car crash in November 2013. Fans of Walker have waited a long time to see this documentary, which will feature never-before-seen footage of his daily life, as well as interviews with his family and friends, including his parents and co-stars in the “Fast and Furious” franchise.
Jeremy Clarkson Does the Unthinkable on the Side of the Road
Jeremy Clarkson may have a deep-rooted aversion to manual labor, but that didn’t stop the famous motoring host from helping British TV personality and socialite Binky Felstead change a flat tire in London. Those who have followed Clarkson’s exploits in Top Gear and The Grand Tour are well versed in his annoyance with doing anything that involves breaking a sweat. So seeing him change a tire in real life is a pleasant surprise, if not a bit jarring.
Lotus CEO Abruptly Steps Down Just as the Company is Poised to Take Flight
Jean-Marc Gales abruptly stepped down from his post as the CEO of Lotus, citing “personal reasons” as the cause of his exit. The French executive has been the main man behind the sports car brand since 2014 after former CEO Dany Bahar was forced to resign after being accused of misusing company funds. Quingfeng Feng, vice president and chief technical officer of Geely Auto Group, will assume Gales’ role as CEO of Lotus.
Matt LeBlanc Cites Travel and Time Commitments as Reasons Behind Top Gear Exit
For the third time in three years, Top Gear is losing its frontman as Friends and Man with a Plan star Matt LeBlanc has announced plans to leave the show at the conclusion of the upcoming season. His included “extensive travel” and “time commitment” as the biggest issues behind his decision to leave the show behind. Just like that, the show’s hosting lineup is being thrown into turmoil.
Fired by Ford for "inappropriate behavior," Raj Nair joins company that builds Ford GT
Raj Nair, the former president of Ford North America, who left the firm earlier in 2018 following an internal investigation into "inappropriate behavior," has joined Canada-based company Multimatic Motorsports. The privately held racing shop has worked with Ford for decades, and it has built the Ford GT supercar since 2015.
Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Leave the Royal Wedding in Style with an Electric Jaguar E-Type
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few weeks, you’ve undoubtedly been inundated with coverage of the royal wedding. But don’t worry - we aren’t here to analyze Meghan’s dress or the contents of the goodie bags handed out to guests. No, we’d prefer to talk about that surprisingly quiet E-Type that whisked the happy couple off to the royal reception.
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FCA Can Now Put The Anton Yelchin Case To Rest After Settling With Late Actor’s Family
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the family of Anton Yelchin have finally settled the lawsuit that was filed by the latter over the unfortunate and untimely death of the Star Trek actor. A report from Reuters reveals that the case was wrapped up in Los Angeles Superior Court last week, putting the rest a legal battle that had been ongoing for the last 20 months.
Jeremy Clarkson, Man of The Grand Tour, Will Host Who Wants to be a Millionaire!
It’s official. Jeremy Clarkson is trading in his all-denim look for (hopefully) a suit and a tie when he takes the stage as the new host of the British version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? The Grand Tour host will take the helm of the once-popular reality quiz show when it returns to British network ITV after a four-year absence. The show will officially return this spring for one week, running seven nightly one-hour episodes.
Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain Gets a Custom-Built ‘Greatest Hits’ Jaguar XJ6
When he isn’t chopping wood on bangers like “The Trooper” or “Run To The Hills,” heavy metal drummer Nicko McBrain entertains himself with a collection of handsome Jaguars. Now, he’s got another Bad Cat to indulge in following the debut of this customized XJ6 at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show.
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Prepare For The Feels: Paul Walker Documentary in Development
It’s hard to think about Paul Walker and not wax nostalgic about the life that was snuffed out so quickly and suddenly. Even though he tragically lost his life in 2013, Walker’s legacy continues to live on, and soon we’ll get to watch his life on the screen courtesy of a new documentary, titled I Am Paul Walker.
John Olsson’s New Ride is A Two-Faced RS6 With Sinister Intentions
Jon Olsson is known for his love of cars and owning some of the most desirable custom-built exotics in the world. The Swedish alpine ski racer is particularly fond of the Audi RS6 Avant. He once owned a heavily tuned RS6 Avant that met an untimely end when it was stolen and burned to a crisp. Not one to be unnerved by the circumstances that befell his ride, Olsson bought a new RS6 Avant before turning it over to ABT Sportsline for a little tuning job. The result is the Audi RS6 Phoenix.