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Travis Pastrana Goes Full Throttle at Wild New NRX Track

Travis Pastrana Goes Full Throttle at Wild New NRX Track

There’s going to be a lot of air time when you’re around this course

Travis Pastrana didn’t mince his words describing the NRX track, calling it a “hell track for cars.” Pastrana knows a thing or two about hell track for racers. He’s competed — and won — in supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross, and rally racing. But even with his accomplishments, Pastrana still paid reverence to the track that will be used in the Nitro World Games by taking us on a flying lap around the circuit.

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Top 5 Used Cars that Teen Drivers Won't Hate

Top 5 Used Cars that Teen Drivers Won’t Hate

For helping to find the best cars for teens, the internet is completely useless. (Um, present company excepted.) Of course, you probably already know that, having likely found this article in your Google search results among similar lists compiled by people who have long forgotten life before mortgages. Oh, yes, Forbes — do tell how every teen would simply love a 2012 Kia. Because that’s totally a thing that your average 16-year-old could afford to buy and insure, and it will never wind up hidden in shame at the back of the biggest parking lot available. Yup. Rock on, old people.

But, maybe that’s being a little unfair to parents. Fact is, most teens will end up with hand-me-downs anyway, and you want them to have something that’s reliable, practical and above all, safe. The sobering reality here is that automobile accidents are by far the No.1 killer of people 15 to 19 years old. Forget suicide, murder, poisoning and drugs like The Reefer — car accidents typically kill more teens every year than all of those things combined.

So, there’s a fine balance to strike here. As a parent, you don’t want to put your kids in a deathtrap or encourage them to be self-destructive hooligans. But as a teenager, it’s pretty much your full-time job to be a self-destructive hooligan. About the only thing both parties can agree on is that they don’t want to spend a fortune in buy-in, insurance and gas.

So, here’s Topspeed’s list of five vehicles that tick everybody’s boxes — or at least make for a decent compromise. We’re going back 20 years, primarily on the basis that hand-me-downs and buying cheap are primary considerations for most people. But unlike most people, we’re also going to take into account style, customization opportunities, how the car fits into the average teen’s lifestyle, and (deep breath) even sportiness. In short, all the stuff that goes into picking out a car that teens won’t hate.

Continue reading for the full story.

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"Steve McQueen: Full Throttle Cool" Book Review

"Steve McQueen: Full Throttle Cool" Book Review

When it comes to car guys, Steve McQueen was definitely a guy worth looking up to. Working his way out of a poverty-stricken and abusive childhood, McQueen became a top Hollywood star and an auto racing legend. By combining these vocations, he created some of the most iconic car-guy movies ever made. Most car enthusiasts know “Bullitt” and “Le Mans,” (and if you don’t, you should acquaint yourself immediately) but not as many are familiar with McQueen’s life, which was just as epic as his movies.

As a larger-than-life celebrity, it seems natural for Steve McQueen to share shelf space with superheroes. Motorbooks has released Steve McQueen: Full Throttle Cool, which renders McQueen’s life story in graphic novel format. Written by Dwight John Zimmerman and illustrated by Greg Scott, this graphic novel illustrates the actor and racer’s film and real-life exploits in unforgettable fashion. McQueen’s story unfolds like a hero’s origin story. Zimmerman and Scott start with his early life in Indiana and spin the whole chronicle up until McQueen’s death at age 50.

I am an avid reader, but I’m not usually one to pick up a biography. This one drew me in, however. The graphic novel format of Full Throttle Cool was a more inviting style that’s designed to appeal to a wide range of audiences, and I consumed all 96 pages in a single sitting. McQueen’s exploits have a, “Wait, this guy was for real?” quality that keeps the pages turning. The story is told through dialogue and background text, and rises above the occasionally stilted prose that’s often found in comics. Scott’s art is realistic, telling McQueen’s fantastic story while making sure that the cars and celebrities who feature in it are rendered instantly recognizable.

Continue reading for the full story.

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It's Not Just Texting While Driving Anymore

It’s Not Just Texting While Driving Anymore

In 2012, the Institute of Advanced Motorists performed a study on the use of smartphones while driving. The end result showed that it is more dangerous to use a smartphone while driving than it is to drive with a legal amount of alcohol in your system or when under the influence of THC (marijuana).

This month, the IAM performed another study. This time they asked 500 drivers about their use of smartphones and tablets while driving. The study showed that 9 percent of people admitted to taking a selfie while driving in the last month, 8 percent said they used video calling apps, and 19 percent said they accessed and used the internet. Of those who admitted to taking selfies while driving, 5 percent were women, and 12 percent were men.

Results were also broken down into different age groups. Of those aged 18 to 24, 15 percent admitted to selfies, 16 percent admitted to video calling, 13 percent watch streaming videos and 27 percent accessed and used the internet. Those aged 25 to 35 proved even higher numbers: 19 percent have snapped pictures of themselves; 34 percent have watched streaming video, and 34 percent have browsed the internet.

Continue reading for the full story.

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How Do You Hypermile?

How Do You Hypermile?

In just the last week, we’ve seen three separate fuel economy records fall and go permanently to rest. Probably the biggest and most important, the record for non-hybrid fuel consumption on a long-distance trip. After trekking across 48 states and 8,233 miles, the driver of a certain bone stock 2015 VW Golf diesel managed a truly stunning 81.7 mpg — in a car rated for 32 city and 44 highway mpg. And who, might you ask, managed this incredible feat of skill and determination? Why, that would be Wayne Gerdes — the very man who coined the term "hypermiling" so many years ago.

The idea of driving a car for maximum fuel economy isn’t entirely new, but it did catapult into notoriety some years back with the birth of hypermiling. As our newest extreme motorsport, hypermiling quickly (and quietly) found a home among engineers, scientists, and other people who enjoy talking about things like adiabetic efficiency and the First Law of Thermodynamics.

That might not sound like the most exciting company in the world — but there was a lot of science, a lot of technical stuff and a lot of trial and error in the beginning. All very science-y. But now, after many years and many records fallen, hypermiling’s anorak forefathers have finally cracked the code of how to regularly double the average car’s gas mileage with driving technique alone. In truth, the specifics are all still very technical, and techniques will still vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle, and road to road. But here’s a basic primer to get you started on doubling your fuel economy with nothing more than patience, brains and precision driving.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Are Most Women Lousy Drivers?

Are Most Women Lousy Drivers?

When a headline asks me a question, I feel compelled to answer it, sometimes cryptically. In this case, the answer is: no more than men are. In the United States at least, driver’s ed courses suck, so the majority of drivers aren’t properly trained, and don’t care (or know) enough to do better.

It’s not even a matter of loving cars or not (though it’s true that the average person who doesn’t care much about cars isn’t going to put too much effort into learning to pilot one well). I’ve got some bad news for the legions of gleeful hoons out there: Just because you did something on purpose doesn’t mean it’s not bad driving. It does serve as a nice way to camouflage the fact that there are just as many men who can’t drive as there are women, regardless of what you think you’ve seen.

Hello, confirmation bias, our old friend! The good news (in terms of debunking the “bad women drivers” myth) is that there’s not much basis in fact. The other bad news is, it’s pretty much impossible to tell someone that they’re wrong. It’s awfully hard to deny what someone has observed with his own eyes, even if it’s wrong. But really, this stereotype, just like that all BMW/Prius/Grand Am/whatever drivers are jerks who don’t know how to drive, or that guys get lost because they won’t ask for directions, is entirely rooted in you seeing what you expect to see.

Don’t believe me? Try this, then:
What does this say? (Don’t cheat and jump ahead.)

"Once
Upon a
a time."

Say it out loud. Go on, humor me.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Drives Up A Volcano: Video

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Drives Up A Volcano: Video

Motorsport legends and all-round thrill seekers Ryan Millen and Andy Bell decided it would be fun to drive a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro up the side of several volcanoes in uncharted Chilean wilderness. Yep, volcanoes – in a truck. Then again, it’s the same truck (and the same guys) that tackled the Baja 1000 in mostly stock form.

The Toyota-sourced video shows the pair absolutely abusing the Tundra TRD Pro over treacherous terrain filled with jagged rocks, huge crevices, boiling springs, and lava flows. The truck seems to handle the punishment with ease, never breaking or even having so much as a flat tire – at least on camera.

Though it’s a sensationalized video with daredevil stunts no normal person would try, it does show that modern trucks are beastly machines, especially ones upfitted to handle such off-road terrain.

The Tundra TRD Pro is accompanied by the Tacoma and 4Runner TRD Pro in Toyota’s three-member heavy-hitters’ club. All three are fitted with heavy-duty shocks, upgraded skidplates, meaty tires, stronger wheels, and extra ground clearance. In the Tundra’s case, it also comes with a full performance exhaust system that spews beautiful noises from the 5.7-liter V-8 under the hood.

Make sure to watch the video in hi-def and on full screen. The vistas these guys see are simply incredible.

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Driving Simulators

Driving Simulators

It’s the last lap. Ahead of you is the race leader, and after staring at his exhaust for a dozen or so minutes, you decide it’s time for a change in scenery. You draft up, closing the distance, then juke to the inside at the very last moment as you both enter the braking zone. You’re alongside him, your rear end light as you ride the threshold of adhesion. The corner is yours, and if you drive right, so is the race.

Suddenly, some back marker clips your fender, smoke pouring from two locked front tires. There’s no time to react, no space to maneuver, and no grip left to use. You’re shoved sideways, and all three of you plow off track, suspension crumpled, aero scrapped, bodywork splintered. Game over.

But hey, that’s racing – if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right? And if the above scenario played out in real life, the end result would probably be a broken bank.

But modern technology can offer the same adrenaline charge without the choice between ramen or sardine dinners. Not only are driving simulators getting cheaper, they’re more immersive as well.

From entertainment to hardcore professional training, driving simulators are hitting the mainstream in a big way. In this article, we’ll take a look at how the tech has developed over the years, followed by a few standout examples and what they look like compared to the real world.

Click Continue Reading to learn more about driving simulators.

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BMW's Performance Driving School: Video

BMW’s Performance Driving School: Video

There are quite a few folks out there who will spend a lot of money to make their car go just a little bit faster. This is especially true of Bimmer owners. Dropping thousands on BPUs is the name of the game when it comes to European sports car mods.
And while I should be the last person on Earth to judge such behavior (“underdrive pulleys, eh? Five extra horsepower for how much, exactly? Never mind, just give them to me”), I will say that the most important upgrade anyone should make is to the nut behind the wheel.

Yes, you, Mr. "I’ve got a fast car." You’re the one making all those sloppy apexes and not blipping on your downshifts, and that’ll cost you time every single lap, even if you do happen to make more power and grip harder than the other guy.

So what do you do? Simple – go back to school. BMW is offering a slew of courses at its Performance Center, a few of which are highlighted in this video.

Even if you don’t spend your weekends at the track, a learning session at a decent driving school will make you a better driver on the street. As professional driver and race coach Grant Ryley told us in an interview last December, “the very first time that you get to threshold on the brakes shouldn’t be when you’re trying to avoid an accident on the highway. That should be the hundredth time.”

Wise words, indeed.

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Jeff Gordon Announces Semi-Retirement After 2015 NASCAR Season

Jeff Gordon Announces Semi-Retirement After 2015 NASCAR Season

The Rainbow Warriors will be looking for another pot of gold in 2016 following Jeff Gordon’s announcement yesterday that he will step away from full-time driving after the 2015 season. After 23 years of racing at the top level of NASCAR, Gordon, 43, plans to hand over the reins of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports race car.

Despite stepping out of the No. 24 Chevrolet, it doesn’t sound like Gordon is really ready to hang up his helmet and walk away from the sport altogether.

“I won’t use the ‘R-word’ [retire] because I plan to stay extremely busy in the years ahead, and there’s always the possibility I’ll compete in selected events, although I currently have no plans to do that,” Gordon said in a press release.

Gordon, 43, is by far one of the most dominant NASCAR drivers since his debut in 1992, and even though it’s been 14 years since his last championship, he and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team are consistently contenders to win races and championships.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France responded to the news by saying: “Jeff Gordon transcends NASCAR and will be celebrated as one of the greatest drivers to ever race. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Jeff for his years of dedication and genuine love for this sport, and wish him the very best in his final season.”

As for who will be replacing Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports isn’t making any announcements just yet.

Click past the jump to read more about Jeff Gordon’s NASCAR racing career.

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Video: Infiniti Launches "A to Z of Formula One" Series

Video: Infiniti Launches "A to Z of Formula One" Series

This Formula One season is looking more and more like a lost cause for every team on the grid not named Mercedes GP. Defending champion Red Bull will likely lose out on the title this year, so in order to pass the time – or at least make it interesting for the four-time champs – the team and its partner Infiniti have taken to launching a new video series called the "A to Z of Formula One."

As the title of the series implies, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastien Buemi, Christian Horner, and Adrian Newey all take turns highlighting key aspects of Formula One tied to each letter of the alphabet.

Some are pretty self-explanatory like (A)erodynamics, (H)elmet, (F)ly-aways, and (I)nterlagos, but other letters represented some pretty interesting aspects of Formula One that are a little more obscure. Items like (C)omputational Fluid Dynamics, (D)rag Reduction System, and (K)inetic Energy Recovery System (or as it’s come to be known now, ERS) are interesting to listen to. What’s more is the excellent way the Red Bull guys explain the complex systems on a level that we all can understand.

The series runs in six different episodes, with the second to sixth episodes after the jump.

More videos after the jump.

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Report: Michael Schumacher Breathes on His Own, but the Family Denies it

It’s been over two months since Michael Schumacher’s horrible skiing accident that left him fighting for his life in a French hospital, but recent reports by Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport indicates that Schumacher is now breathing on his own.

While this seems like a significant development for the seven-time Formula One world champion who is, according to his manager Sabine Kehm, still in the "wake up phase," the family has released a statement through Schumi’s manager claiming that this claim is false, according to a report from TGCOM24..

The same Gazzetta article also indicated that two of Schumacher’s best buds in Formula One — Jean Todt and Ross Brawn — have made frequent visits to the hospital to be by Schumacher’s side. It’s also been reported that when Todt and Brawn visit Schumi, recordings of pit radio conversations and F1 engine sounds are played in an attempt to stimulate his memories.

We’re still holding out for better and more definitive news of his condition, and we’d love to believe that this report is true. Unfortunately, it looks like we are still in a holding pattern with this situation

Click past the jump to read more about Michael Schumacher.

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Video: Lamborghini Test Driver Has Awesome Job

Video: Lamborghini Test Driver Has Awesome Job

Pretty much everyone in this world has a different idea about a dream job; but everyone who visits TopSpeed probably dreamed about being “racecar driver” some day. Many of us still have that wish.

But racing is not a practical career ambition for most, so what to do?

Being a Transporter like Jason Statham might be fun, but the risk of death from a drive-by shooting is quite high. So what is a real-life supercar and track junky left to envision?

Luckily, there are many other options for how to get paid for driving fast. At least in Italy at the country’s famed supercar brands.

Being a professional test racer for Lamborghini or Ferrari is pretty close to the bulls-eye dream job for would-be racers.

Consistency and feedback on every aspect is mandatory, and hard to do. It also really helps if you grew up within walking distance of the Ferrari or Lambo compounds in Italy.

While most of us will only dream about this, Lamborghini’s test driver Giorgio Sanna gives us a day in his life.

Sanna is Lamborghini’s chief R&D and motorsport test driver, so nothing ships without his settings and preferences applied to production cars. He must be quite busy with the Cabrera still under heavy wraps.

For a peek behind the curtain at one of the world’s coolest jobs, Lamborghini’s driver profile video is a great piece. It shows his best talents as well as highlighting all the hard work that goes along with burning rubber professionally.

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Video: Ryan Tuerck Invents "The Game of Drift"

Video: Ryan Tuerck Invents "The Game of Drift"

The things people do when they have a lot of time to themselves range from the inane to the genius. Drift Alliance driver, Ryan Tuerck, will never be confused for a rocket scientist, but the man is, at least in this particular case, a bonafide genius.

Together with his Drift Alliance teammate Chris Forsberg, Ryan took the game of H-O-R-S-E and put a different spin to it. Actually, he took the game, used a different word, and proceeded to make it more awesome than any of us could have imagined.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting The Game of D-R-I-F-T.

The mechanics remain the same, at least for the most part. One driver does a stunt, then the other copies it and when he can’t, he gets the letter D. The end happens when one spells D-R-I-F-T similar to H-O-R-S-E in basketball.

Both Tuerck and Forsberg used Nissan 240SX drift cars, so nobody has any kind of advantage when it comes to the car. By the end of the video, though, you’ll discover that one of these two just completely obliterates the other in a series of stunts that are too cool to describe.

Watch the video. You’ll be thankful that you did.

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Top Gear Gets the Guinness World Record for Most Watched Factual Show

Top Gear Gets the Guinness World Record for Most Watched Factual Show

No true automotive junky can channel surf past Top Gear without at least stopping for a few minutes. Even if you can’t stand the show; the cars are bad ass, the driving is borderline insane, and Jeremy Clarkson’s snarly, sarcastic and brash attempts at humor are downright unsettling. That’s pretty much exactly what we love about the show.

Well, this extremely popular show – now watched in 212 territories around the world – has officially been named the “Most Watched Factual TV Program” by Guinness World Record. As expected, Jeremy Clarkson was front and center to accept the award with the rather bland “I am very proud to be associated with such a factual program” statement. Oh Jeremy, you are man of so many words…

Regardless of the “Eh, whatever” response, we tip our hats to the empire the Clarkson and his cohorts have built since 1977.

We tried finding out who owned the record before Top Gear, but the record seems to not exist in the 2012 edition of the book… Hm, interesting… We did, however, find out that you can submit your own world record. We wonder if there is a weird publicity stunt behind all of this. Nah, they would never…

Plus, Clarkson just looks oh so happy holding that plaque in the press image.

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Exagon Motors Furtive-eGT Takes a Spin Around the Nürburgring and Gets Rave Reviews

If there is one person that knows the Nürburgring, it is Sabine Schmitz. No, she’s not some crazy test driver that is hired to test all of the latest and greatest sports cars. Rather, she was once known as the `Ring Taxi, as she was responsible for driving an M5 around the ring to pick up drivers whose cars had either broken down or wrecked. She claims that she has circled the famed racetrack over 20,000 times. Yeah, we think she is an expert.

Well, she is now taking to driving new cars around the track, since retiring from taxiing around racecar drivers (and wannabees). Her latest test was of the soon-to-be-released Exagon Furtive-eGT, which is a French-built EV. It’s claimed to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.5 seconds and hit an electronically limited 155 mph top speed (179 mph without the limiter). So, how did it actually perform?

Schmitz came back with rave reviews on this EV. She is quoted saying “I was very surprised about the grip and the power” and that “you’re [going] fast, but it feels like you are going so easy.” She went on to rave about the brakes and suspension systems too, saying that it’s like “sitting on a cloud.” She also talked about how it has an extremely low center of gravity, which is something that she doesn’t often see in a car like this.

From the sounds of it, the Furtive-eGT is a smash hit, but we won’t know until it officially hits the market. We don’t know exactly when it will go on sale or if it will be available in the U.S., but we do know that it’ll make its debut at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

This may finally be the competition that Tesla has been lacking to date, but we’ll see. It is certainly off to a good start.

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Audi RS5 Leads Police on Fastest British Chase

Audi RS5 Leads Police on Fastest British Chase

Criminals are all too often not the brightest bulbs in the pack and this usually results in them using something like a 1989 Dodge Shadow as their getaway car. Well, not to compliment a robber, but this UK thief took planning to a whole new level and stole himself a real getaway ride, a 450-horsepower Audi RS5.

After his 16th robbery of a UK business, he took off in the RS5 and the police could hardly keep up – seeing the cars they drive, it is no surprise. The dude even outran a helicopter. It wasn’t until he decided to make a stopover at a local apartment complex that he was tracked down and busted.

The police estimated that he was doing upwards of 180 mph during the chase and by the looks of the helicopter camera, his tires gave way at some point and he was shooting sparks from the rims – a tribute to that wonderful Quattro AWD system, if I may add.

RS5 as seen by the police chopper infrared camera - shooting heat from exhaust and wheels

In all, this 65-mile run from the cops in a stolen Audi beast – and the multiple robberies – landed this thief in jail for nine years. A rather light sentence for all of those crimes and an extremely fast police chase. We guess they do things a little differently in the UK.

Anyways, check out the above video to see all of the craziness. You’ll notice that the cameras are pretty choppy in the beginning, but the chase section is nice and smooth.

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2009 Polaris RZR-X Pikes Peak

2009 Polaris RZR-X Pikes Peak

For anyone that got a chance to see the wreck-fest that was also known as the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), you may have noticed an odd vehicle resting just inside the top-10 standings. This vehicle was a Polaris RZR-X... That’s right, a UTV managed to sneak its way into the top-10 with a finishing time of 10:40.669.

This is not a normal RZR-X that you would see sitting in a local bike shop. Oh, no. It’s owner, Doug Siddens, and his crew have this RZR-X tuned to the gills, making it outrun some of the most exotic cars in the world.

In addition, if you were to sit this RZR next to any other RZR in the world, you would barely be able to tell that they are the same vehicle. Doug’s beast features all of the fixins needed to make it into a true race car, err, race UTV.

Mr. Siddens was so kind to actually take the time out to send us a laundry list of what the vehicle has and we chose to provide our readers with a full review of this amazing Polaris RZR.

Click past the jump to read this entire review, as well as see some awesome pics and videos of Doug’s impressive Polaris.

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