Like stories like this? This one is from an older issue of our magazine. You’ll see every article as soon as it’s published by reading the print edition of Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now. story and photos by alan cesar We always hear that lightweight wheels are better. Reducing unsprung mass theoretically helps a car’s suspension work more effectively. Reducing rotating mass should make the car accelerate and stop faster as well. But how big of an effect is this? We’ve compared light and heavy wheels a few times before, and the results consistently showed a negligible difference in autocross times–even with extreme differences in wheel weight. Of course, autocross testing involves a lot of variables, including changing track conditions and driver fatigue. We thought we’d give it one more shot with some different test methods. We took our little yellow LeMons race car–yes, a little foreshadowing–two sets of wheels … [Read more...] about Are Lighter Wheels Really Better?
Really slow motion
Oh my. This is really quite tremendous. A Finnish man has filmed a dragster capable of 4.19-second quarter miles in such slow motion you can actually see the engine’s firing order. And you can see the effect of a planet-spinning amount of torque on a set of Goodyear drag slicks at approximately one ZILLION frames per second. Wait till later on and you even to get to see the aerodynamics working as air wisps off the rear spoiler. The tyres also go a bit weird when it reaches its 278mph terminal velocity. Now watch. It’s jolly good. … [Read more...] about Watch: slow motion dragster
“Slow down” is not a phrase often heard in racing, unless you’re overheating on the dragstrip return road and speeding back to the pits in a panic (you know who you are). In general though, racing is about going fast, which is why the Racing in Slow Motion series on YouTube is so incredible to watch. It’s a rarely seen viewpoint. In fact, it’s an impossible to see viewpoint and it gives one a whole new appreciation for the physical forces acting on a race car and driver. The shots of tires deforming during burnouts and over rumble strips, suspension arms flexing, bodywork fluttering and through it all, the focused gaze of the driver…it really highlights the drama. It also makes me want to double check all the fasteners on my race car. They go through a lot, those little guys. The Racing in Slow Motion series covers all kinds of racing, which suits me just fine, but just in case you need something to get the taste of Audis out of your mouth, … [Read more...] about Fast Cars in Slow Motion
Electric cars used to be a far off vision of the future. But, as it turns out, the future is already here! Did you know that Volkswagen has got an electric car out of the oven, and ready for production? Want one? Sorry. Really, really, pretty-please want one? Nope. Not even if you’re stinking rich? Not even. As this pristine white Golf sits in front of you, you cannot actually buy it just yet. But if you can be but a wee bit patient, in about one-and-a-half years, theoretically you will be able to buy a production electric Golf (complete with the somewhat torturous Blue-E-Motion name), but it will be on the next-generation Golf, based on the all-new version of the preternaturally popular hatchback, riding on the new chassis that will also underpin a bewildering array of Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda and Audi models in the future. The only external changes compared to a petrol or diesel Golf are the absence of an exhaust system and the positioning of electric charger points behind the … [Read more...] about Electric Volkswagen Golf Blue-E-Motion prototype – a preview test drive in Wolfsburg, Germany
A good friend of mine has a bit of wisdom that I try to follow whenever possible: “Say yes to everything.” It’s easy to misconstrue this as encouragement to engage in promiscuous behavior, ingestion of narcotics and other activities that are indicative of poor future-time orientation. Instead, it’s an exhortation to open oneself up to experiences and opportunities, without regard for the kind of details that the more neurotic among us might obsess over.I kept this in mind when I got a call from a local fleet manager not long ago. His offer was simple: drive a brand new Jaguar XKR for a week. As always, there were conditions attached.1) This was, literally, a brand new car. When I picked up the keys, it had roughly 50 miles on it.2) I had to help with the “break-in”, which meant driving it fairly long distances, and with extra care in mind. Gentle acceleration was fine. Mashing the throttle and lighting up the rears in an effort to recreate the … [Read more...] about Drive Slow, Homie
They say the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.I was blessed with an appreciation for road racing and cars that corner and handle well. Unfortunately, I’m also very prone to motion sickness. That means I can’t race cars.Back when I was riding around in the rear facing far back seat in the Buick station wagon belonging to my best friend Stevie Margolin’s mom, this affliction was called “car sickness.” It was either in that Buick or on one of Detroit’s Bob-Lo boats that I recall first experiencing nausea when in motion.Nausea and motion have a long association. The term nausea in fact comes to use from the ancient Greek word for boat. Up to 95 percent of the population experiences some form of motion sickness, with 5-15 percent being extremely sensitive to it. Placebos, pharmaceuticals, over the counter medications, pressure bands, and even skin patches behind the ear have all been tried as treatments to varying degrees of success and side … [Read more...] about Product Review: Will the ReliefBand Motion Sickness Device Let Me Go Racing?
“Extras with cars! This way!”A 20-something assistant to someone else’s assistant guides us to where the next shoot will take place.“You! You! And You! We need you for wardrobe!”Me? This can’t be good.My wife and I were already dressed in early 80’s clothes for the upcoming scene since they emailed us the specifics on the night before the shoot.Our outfits, pretty much a combination of earthly browns and worn out beige, weren’t too hard to find. Any thrift store will do. Here in the Deliverance country that is North Georgia, nobody pays any mind to what you wear, so long as you’re wearing something.Unfortunately, for Hollywood standards, we’re both old now. She’s forty, and I’m forty-two. Or to put it another way, we’re both really 42 and climbing too damn fast.Hollywood doesn’t want us. But they do want our Jeep.You see this Jeep Cherokee? It’s apparently the Hollywood version of Michael Caine … [Read more...] about Hammer Time: Halt and Catch Fire Jeep Cherokee
Welcome to the $82,470 “small” BMW.I suppose it’s not that outrageous; correct the $34,810 MSRP of the original 1988 M3 to modern Bernankified pesos, and it’s just over seventy grand for a car that had less than half the power of this 2016 M3 Competition/Executive Package and absolutely none of the luxury accoutrements.But here’s the crazy part: for Brayden, the car’s owner, this is the cheaper of the two 2016 M3s that he just bought.His name’s not Brayden, but it rhymes with Brayden, and that’s good enough. He’s also asked me to blur his face in the photographs.“Too many people on the Internet get angry at the idea that a 19-year-old has a new car at all, much less two new M3s. But compared to a lot of my friends, who have already moved onto supercars, this feels like I’m being responsible. And I paid for the cars myself.”Six years ago, when Brayden was a teenager, he became fascinated with the … [Read more...] about 2016 BMW M3 Competition Package Track Test – Bitcoin Bimmer
Last year, our own Murilee Martin found a Euro-market Volkswagen light-duty commercial van during one of his many junkyard adventures. As often happens here at TTAC, we had a brilliant contribution from one of the B&B, fictionalizing the story of the van’s final days. Then, just two days ago, the van’s last owner showed up to tell the true tale.The Crabspirits tale of the VW LT van was depressing, hilarious, earthy, and insightful all at once:Hermann was burning.Hermann scratched at his full, grey beard. Beads of sweat lay within. He could feel it running down his chin, down to his neck, forming streams on his naked chest. It had to be 100° in the van, even with all the doors open. He had to pace himself. The sweat merged himself and Susan into one cohesive being. It was erotic in the extreme. The waves passed through him, and he collapsed over her back briefly before sliding off onto the disheveled twin mattress. “That was a nice romp, love.”, said … [Read more...] about Volkswagen LT: Crabspirits Vs. Reality
This Sunday Story is a sequel to The Genesis of Something New. If you haven’t read that one, go read it and come back. And since we haven’t done these for a while, let me put this warning up front: this is FICTION. “You prick. I saw your profile on Tinder. You’re a pathetic sex addict. We’re done and your wife is getting a copy of every text and picture you’ve ever sent me. HAHA BYE LOSER.”Well, that was an interesting way to wake up.Like most people in this third-screen society, I don’t get out of bed without checking my phone. That text, safely hidden behind the “1” icon on my phone, was just the latest in the series of crazy messages from my left-coast girlfriend, Fairuza. Both fortunately and unfortunately, depending on how I felt about her at that very minute, I’d spent most of my work time in Miami, and she was a little over three thousand miles away in Palo Alto, California. I knew there was no way she … [Read more...] about Sunday Stories: The Tinder On Which We Burned