April 29, 2012

Snake in Audi Q7

   You didn't read the title of this post wrong.  Yesterday while helping my 84-year-old grandmother move off her 8 acres to a more manageable place we found a King snake under the hood of the Q7. 

   Being irresponsible, we had allowed the battery on the Honda Pilot to go dead.  We popped the hood of the Q7, our first mistake since the battery is located in the back of this Audi, to attach jumper cables.  The engine was already running on the Q7, so there was some movement in the engine bay, but I noticed that there was a little too much movement.
I borrowed this picture.  Please don't sue me, contractcarsuk.wordpress.com!
   I should clarify that I think snakes are the Devil.  Not in that "ha ha" he made a Biblical joke way, but in the "they don't have legs and still move" way.  If you are a snake person, that's awesome.  I'm not.

   The King snake was sitting on the left side of the engine bay and was uncoiling deeper.  I half-shouted the words, "That's a snake" in a strained voice.  My uncle has no fear of snakes, grabbed it by the tail and started pulling it out.  The snake was stubborn and even after we turned off the engine didn't want to come out. After one of the strangest tug-of-wars I've ever seen, the snake came free.

   It was understandable why the snake picked the engine bay.  The engine was warm, the snake was cold blooded, and I hate snakes; The perfect combination for me to not think about taking pictures for the Internet.

   The only thing I wonder about is why the German car.  There was a Nissan Altima, a Toyota Tundra with a supercharger, a GMC Yukon XL Denali, and a Honda Pilot, but it picked the Q7.  Probably for some logical reason like the Q7 was the warmest and snakes sense heat...  

Here's a picture that I borrowed from Wikipedia...

   No snakes were harmed in the making of this post.  I should also say that I didn't check on the snake after it slithered off.  It could have been mauled by a mongoose later that day and was still in its relaxed spa-state from the warm engine bay, so it didn't see the mongoose coming.  Who could blame him?  A mongoose in the Midwest?  That's ludicrous.  Maybe the Bloggess will have a Mongoose I could borrow?  She likes taxidermy.

P.S. Let me know your creepiest snake stories and I'll update them here.  Add a comment or shoot me an email.

April 21, 2012

Dale Earnhardt Jr. @ the 2012 STP 400

I got to hang out in the Media Center at Kansas Speedway on Friday.  Here's a clip of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s short press conference.  It was nothing like Jimmie Johnson's, Greg Biffle's, or Matt Kenseth's.  More clips will post later tonight and tomorrow.

Happy Race Weekend to all!  Special thank you to Ford Racing for granting me access to Biffle's hauler, the garage, the media center, the 2013 Ford Fusion Prototype Race Car, and the day as a whole. 

2013 Ford Racing Fusion

It’s Race Weekend at Kansas Speedway, which basically means that unless you are attending a race, stay away from KCK and the Legends.  The #1 thing I heard was how much the area around the track has grown. 
There were tires...
The main issue that I ran into today was trying to take pictures of only Ford Sprint Cup cars.  My dad taught me years ago to “dance with the one you brought.”  Or in this case the one who brought me out to the raceway on an unseasonably chilly day.  All of the 2012 Sprint Cup cars look the same.  I had to first find a manufacturer sticker before I could shoot a picture.  I didn’t hesitate to shoot Clint Bowyer’s #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry (When you’re from Emporia and racing in NASCAR, then you always get a plug from this site).  Luckily Columbia’s own, Carl Edwards, is a Ford driver, but that Aflac duck was sneaky...
Bowyer's #15 5-Hour Energy Ride
Ford invited me out to see in person the 2013 Ford Fusion race car prototype and it did not disappoint.  With angry exhaust as a soundtrack, I snapped numerous pictures of the new car and the old car.  The new cars will have electronic fuel injection and careful steps have been taken to maintain the wonderful symphony that is NASCAR exhaust.
The production car donates styling to the race car, but other than that there isn’t anything in the race car that you can find in the production car.
2013 Fusion next to 2012 Fusion
NASCAR and all the manufacturers got together to put together the measurements and requirements for the new cars.  The measurements of the new race car are different from the old car.  There are several hard points where the manufacturers had to have certain measurements, but after that they were all allowed to make them unique to their brand.  
left: 2013 Fusion curvy nose    right: 2012 Fusion flat front end
The new production Fusion’s lines are distinctive and so are the race car's.  There is no one who will walk over to the car that think it could possibly be a new Chevy or Toyota.  Maybe they might think it's an Aston Martin, but how many NASCAR fans have seen an Aston.  Was that too judgmental? I'm a NASCAR fan and I really think the fan base is changing...  Definitely a topic for another post...  
The nose has contours and curves that make it 2 inches longer than the old car's front end.  Where the old front end was a solid wall hit the air, the new car knifes through with curves and predatory grille.  
The front windscreen is raked farther back helping with aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.  The windscreen new raking also helps the car to not look like something out of the late 60's or early 70's.  The roof and rear windscreen are also lower to reduce drag and allow for better aerodynamics.  
The old car has a steeper front windscreen and taller roof.
 The rear end of the ’13 Fusion race car is up to four inches shorter than the 2012 model.  When the cars were lined up nose to tail, I could notice a difference on the rear deck and rear bumper.  The old car's is squared off and massive.  I've made the joke about enough back end to belong in a Hip Hop music video way too many times, but the old car's butt is huge.  The 2013 is shorter, curvier, and helps to reduce drag while improving fuel efficiency.  An analogy that comes to mind is the Mythbuster's episode of driving with the tailgate of your pickup up or down.  Spoilers: down equals reduced fuel efficiency...
The rear spoiler is also slightly curved on the 2013 car.
The rules surrounding the windows have changed as well.  No longer does every team have to use the exact same windows.  They can now replace some of the glass with sheet metal, allowing the manufacturers to curve and shape the surfaces to look like the “stock” production cars.  As long as the cars are still inside the realm of standards laid out, the cars exteriors can be adjusted to better reflect the production cars and improve the aerodynamics.
                All of the safety features that have been implemented in the 2012 cars have carried over to the new models for next season.  This includes all of the seat improvements, harness devices, padding in the doors, fire extinguishers, etc.  
Did Montoya pull the fire extinguisher handle at Daytona?
Matt Kenseth said after driving the 2013 Fusion race car that it drives exactly like the 2012.  The same performance out of a vehicle that looks so much better is definitely a win-win situation.
The haulers are lined up by points. Stewart is last year's champion, so he's first.
After the 2013 Fusion was examined by a team of top notch Scientists (including myself), we infiltrated the garage area (with the appropriate passes) for a short tour.  Greg Biffle’s #16 3M hauler was left unlocked.  Hijinks were set to ensue, but crew members who valued their jobs talked us out of it.  The hauler contains everything that the team could possibly need on a race weekend, even a Keurig machine, bananas, springs, coils, chemicals, gloves, and brand name carpet.  
Even the carpet smelled like winning
I asked permission to take some pictures because certain items that were laid out had super-secret information written on them and I really didn’t want to get anyone fired just so the eight people who read this blog can feel like they had a behind the scenes look.  Biffle is leading the points right now, so I don’t want to be the one to ruin that either…
Behind the hauler were Biffle’s, Kenseth’s, and Eranhardt Jr.’s cars in the garage.  Everything was up for grabs picture-wise, except for the engine compartment.  It’s like they’re trying to win a race or something…  Up close the 2012 cars are impressive, but the exhaust is incredibly loud.  Without ear protection, hearing loss probably begins immediately.
Is Ford proud of the EcoBoost brand?
All of the crews were extremely polite and no one seemed the least perturbed that some bearded guy was wandering through the garage with a camera.  Thank you, Ford Racing, for an incredible experience.  I never thought I'd ever be this close to vehicles that routinely travel at 200 mph.
I was already looking forward to driving a 2013 Fusion production car, but the look of 2013 Sprint Cup series car has me very excited for next year.  Good Luck to everyone this weekend!

2013 Ford Fusion Racing
Putting the “stock” back in Stock Car Racing.

P.S. I heard that phrase so often today that I had to write it down, but I totally didn’t come up with it.  Please don’t sue me if you did.

April 3, 2012

2013 Ford Taurus Commercial

During the NCAA Mens Basketball National Championship, Ford aired a number of ads involving NASCAR's Carl Edwards driving Ford engineers around a track in a new Taurus SHO.

Carl is totally just messing around in a sedan with 365 horsepower.  I feel a little sorry for the Ford engineer, but only a little. 

I experienced the same Ecoboost engine in an F-150 last fall.  I absolutely loved the torque and the power.  You can make the tires chirp at any speed because of the plentiful torque.  If you haven't experienced the 3.5L twin-turbo Ecoboost engine, you need to call your local dealer and schedule a test drive today.  If anything, at least you'll get to burn some fuel that isn't your's...

Watch and enjoy.  Here's to Ford sending a SHO my way! 

April 2, 2012

2012 Audi A6 3.0T

Audi has really made a push in the last couple of years in the German import category.  Audi's are popping up everywhere from Super Bowl ads to all over the metro area.

Base Price: $41,700
As Driven: $64,655
Engine: 3.0L Supercharged V6, 310 hp
Transmission: 8 Speed Shiftable Automatic
Curb Weight: 4,045 lbs.
Wheelbase: 114.7 inches
MPG Rating: 19 city/ 28 hwy

I really had a lot of fun with the A6.  The plentiful power helps the A6 move in and out of traffic with ease and averages 28 mpg on the highway.  The Quattro makes the A6 an option for all seasons.  Very rarely am I left with absolute desire for a car after my test drives, but there is an Audi in my future.  Hopefully, that's prophetic.  Hopefully... 

Thank you to Molle Audi for allowing me to have such a blast in one of their cars.

April 1, 2012

Lexus LF-LC Concept

I work a lot of different jobs.  Because of this I sometimes misplace pics and articles that I want to share with you guys.  This is one of those occasions.  I've had these photos since January...  No excuses, but please enjoy them.

Lexus is really trying to show that they are not some boring luxury car brand.  They've already dazzled us with the LFA.
Lexus LFA at NAIAS '12
The good looking lad in the background is Travis Okulski of Business Insider's Getting There.  Get in line, ladies!
This year they debuted the LF-LC concept car.  While I was in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, I ran into a pretty impressive sight.  Lexus had finished their press conference to introduce the LF-LC concept and was moving it out to the main floor.  I was only up close with the concept for two minutes top so most of the pictures are blurry, but the LF-LC looks great.  Unlike the concepts that Chevy brought to the auto show, the LF-LC is a functional vehicle and under it's own power.  The car was surrounded by a dozen people each helping the driver know how much room he had to navigate the tight confines.
It's blurry because I'm a bad camera operator, not because it was moving that fast.
The headlamps resemble weapons on a space ship and the car itself could have been sneaked into any of the Star Wars prequels.  The car probably would have made the movies better... 

It says hybrid in tiny chrome letters on the quarter panel.
Sir Mix-a-lot might be tempted to write a sequel to "Baby Got Back."
You can see the flaming exhaust brake lights!
The tail lights were designed to look like jet fighter exhaust.  I love the look of this concept and hope it sees production.  Acura and Honda should be worried.  The NSX looks great, but if Lexus builds this car, Honda could have some real competition.

My apologies again for the tardiness of this post.