Test Days

Fernando Alonso, A Ferrari 458 Italia & A Nervous Journalist

Posted in Ferrari, Funny Videos, Track Events, Videos by Kurt Ernst | May 22nd, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Fernando Alonso, using all the available real estate.

Remember the old stickers that said, “Sit down, shut up and hang on?” Apparently, they don’t have those in Italy, since poor Fernando Alonso had to deal with the nervous chattering of an Italian journalist for lap after lap of the Fiorano track. It’s hard to tell if the guy is having a good time, about to lose bladder control or both; whit is clear is that he’s not accustomed to be driven around a race track at speed. Sure, Alonso is milking it for all it’s worth (like the slow, lurid drift at 1:09 in, or his demonstration of oversteer at 1:55), but the guy is a former F1 world champion and arguably one of the five best active drivers in the world. I’d have no problem riding shotgun with Alonso on any track, in any car, at any speed, and I promise I wouldn’t giggle like an four-year-old girl for the duration. Enjoy the video below, but feel free to turn the sound off. Read More…

Tilt Shift Red Bull Ring Video Is Epic Cool

Posted in Cool Stuff, Top of the Heap, Track Events, Videos by Kurt Ernst | May 21st, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Image: Red Bull

The Red Bull Ring, formerly known as the Österreichring or the A-1 Ring, is a racetrack in Spielberg, Styria, Austria. Home of the Austrian Grand Prix from 1970 through 1987 and again from 1997 through 2003, the track was shuttered and the track structures demolished in 2004. It looked like the end of the storied race circuit, once among the most feared on the Grand Prix calendar (and, tragically, where Mark Donahue was killed in a 1975 crash), until it was purchased by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz. Even then, political battles over the future of the track went on for years, until Red Bull announced a reconstruction of the entire facility in 2008. Built specifically to host DTM (German Touring Car) racing, the track’s grand re-opening was held last weekend, with a mega-party hosted by Red Bull. Watch the festivities, in glorious tilt-shift action, in the video below. Read More…

Supercar Smackdown, Courtesy of Best Motoring

Posted in Cool Stuff, Corvette, Ferrari, Lexus, Nissan GT-R, Porsche, Top of the Heap, Track Events, Videos by Kurt Ernst | May 20th, 2011 | 4 Responses |

If you’re a fan of Best Motoring, you probably know that the popular automotive video series has been cancelled, the victim of declining revenues. What better way to end your run that to go out with a supercar smackdown, pitting the Lexus LFA against the Nissan GT-R, the Corvette ZR-1, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS and the Ferrari F430 F1 RSD? While all of the cars are street legal, the Ferrari and the Porsche are definitely intended more for track days than for rush hour commutes. Best Motoring opted to use Fuji Speedway for the battle, and kicked it off with an F1-style standing start. Which car is fastest over three laps? Who leads going into turn one? Can the fastest road-going Porsche ever built hold its own against Japan’s finest? Watch the video below for answers. Read More…

Porsche Delivers The 911 GT2 RS To Eastern Buyers

Posted in Fast Cars, Porsche, Track Events by Kurt Ernst | May 18th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Remember the Porsche 911 GT2 RS? The fastest road-going Porsche ever built, limited to 500 copies worldwide? The one with 612 horsepower from twin turbos, a top speed of 204 miles per hour and a starting price tag of $245,000? Porsche has begun deliveries for east coast customers, and offered buyers the chance to take delivery at Palm Beach International Raceway. Some forty buyers said, “Ja, bitte” to the offer, and were treated to a day filled with driving exercises, hot lapping and even the chance to see what other buyers opted for in their own 911 GT2 RS models. Feel free to drool while watching the video below. Read More…

Porsches At Palm Beach International Raceway

Posted in driving, Porsche, Test Days, Track Events by Kurt Ernst | April 7th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

A Cayman R in the wet.

When Porsche sends you an invitation to drive some of their newest cars on a racetrack, of course you accept. Even when fate and the forces of nature conspire against you, you still go. Consider my own string of bad luck leading up to last Tuesday’s event: on Saturday night, I sprained my left ankle, badly. On Tuesday morning, the four and a half hour drive to Palm Beach International Raceway was complicated by a line of storms that had spawned tornadoes in the Midwest. For an hour and a half, I drove through some of the worst conditions I’ve ever encountered before coming out of the squall line. Or so I thought, but the severe storms continued their southward progression, following me all the way to the track. By the time I checked in, the sky was black and the real fun was about to begin. Read More…

Walter Röhrl Laps The Porsche 904 GTS

Posted in Collector Cars, Porsche, Track Events by Kurt Ernst | March 16th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Walter Röhrl knows a thing or two about car control, having won the WRC title in 1980 and 1982. A senior test driver for Porsche, Niki Lauda once called him a “genius on wheels”, and Italy elected him the “rally driver of the century”. Not to be out-done, France turned around and elected him “rally driver of the millennium”, after which a panel of motorsports journalists awarded him the title of “best rally driver ever”. In other words, no matter what set of keys you toss him, Röhrl can drive the car at 10/10ths. In this case the car in question is a 1965 Porsche 904 GTS, and it’s one of about 30 made with a flat six engine. It’s also owned by a member of the Porsche family, so it’s definitely a car you don’t want to stack into the tire barriers at the Mallorca circuit. Video below. Read More…

Lift Throttle Oversteer 101

Posted in BMW, Crashes, Track Events, Videos by Kurt Ernst | March 13th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

So, you’re new to this whole racetrack driving thing, and you can’t wait to go out and turn hot laps in your new BMW 3 Series. Heading into a corner (off line, it appears) you suddenly realize that you’re going faster than you’re comfortable with. You know well enough not to touch the brakes, but your brain is still sending that “slow down” signal to your right foot. Before you know what’s happening, you lift off the gas and suddenly the car snaps to the outside of the turn; congratulations, you’ve just met Mr. Lift Throttle Oversteer up close and personal. Video below. Read More…

Ford’s Boss 302 Mustang At Speed

Posted in Ford, Mustang, Track Events by Kurt Ernst | March 10th, 2011 | 3 Responses |

Image: Motor Trend

Ford’s goal in developing the new Boss 302 Mustang was to create a car equally at home on the track or on the street. Based on the already stellar Mustang GT, the Boss 302 receives a few engine tweaks to bump it up from 412 horsepower to 430 horsepower, but the real work was done on the car’s suspension (especially on the Laguna Seca edition Boss 302 Mustangs). I could run down a list of components, but I’ll keep it simple: practically every suspension component on the Boss 302 is thicker, stiffer or lower than on the Mustang GT. That translates into some pretty spectacular lap times, and Motor Trend shows just how easy the car is to drive at speed. How fast is it around Laguna Seca? Would you believe over 4 seconds faster than a Shelby GT500, over 2.7 seconds faster than a BMW M3 and over half a second quicker than the Audi R8? Read More…

Is It Curtains For The ‘Ring Taxi?

Posted in News, Promoted, Track Events, Travel by Kurt Ernst | March 8th, 2011 | 1 Response |

Germany’s famed Nürburgring is a mecca for driving enthusiasts from around the world, many of whom show up to drive the track in their own cars. Tourists from across the pond, however, face another dilemma: it’s possible to drive the track in a rental car (as far as I know), but doing so will void any insurance coverage you may or may not have on the vehicle. In other words, if you’re unlucky enough to stack your rented VW Golf in the Carousel, you’ll be writing a big-ass check to the rental agency when you turn in the keys. Local vendors will gladly rent you a race-prepped car to lap the ‘Ring, but this gets expensive very quickly; even a Renault Clio Cup hot hatch will set you back nearly $500 for a half day session, and a Porsche GT3 RS will run you $2,500 for a half day session. For years, the most cost effective way to lap the ‘Ring was in a “Ring Taxi”, sponsored by BMW and driven by such Nürburgring hot shoes as Sabine Schmitz. For a fee of about $270, up to three passengers could enjoy a hot lap of the ‘Ring, but it looks like those days may be coming to an end. Read More…

KTM’s X-Bow Makes It Stateside

Posted in auto industry, European Rides, KTM, News, Track Events by Kurt Ernst | February 26th, 2011 | 3 Responses |

Image: Francesco Gasparetti

Florida doesn’t have a decent driving road in the entire state, but we do have a plethora of racetracks. Off the top on my head, we’ve got Daytona, Palm Beach International, Sebring, Homestead Miami and Jennings GP. Branching out to the next state north, Roebling Road is only an hour and a half from my house, and Road Atlanta is probably closer to me than Homestead Miami. Is it any wonder, then, that I’m jonesing for the KTM X-Box (pronounced “crossbow”) and have been since it was launched in the EU? The track day terror makes perfect sense: you can tow it to the track with nearly any automobile, flog the living snot out of it and not have to worry about saving enough tire and brakes to make it home. In fact, if my current income had just one more zero on the end of it, I’d be on the phone to British Racing Group to order one up, since they’re finally selling the X-Bow on this side of the pond. Read More…