Taking to the course with rally champ Travis Pastrana
The 2010 Rally America Championship made its third stop of the season along the Washington coast, and MSN Autos' Mike Meredith was lucky enough to snag a quick ride with four-time Rally America Champion Travis Pastrana, before Pastrana went on to take his second win of the season at the Olympus Rally. Here's Mike's report:
If you follow motorsports at all, you're familiar with the name Pastrana. The superstar daredevil cemented his reputation in freestyle motocross -- winning six X Games Gold Medals in the process -- before turning his attention to four wheels. Since 2006, Pastrana’s day job has been driving a Subaru WRX STI for the Subaru Rally Team in the Rally America Championship.
The move to rallying (which Pastrana refers to as motocross with a roll cage) has not stopped him from continuing to perform extreme stunts: At X Games 12, in 2006, Pastrana landed the first-ever double back flip in Freestyle Motocross. And just a few months back, on New Year's Eve, Pastrana broke the world record for a rally car jump when he flew his Subaru WRX STI rally car 269 feet from the Pine Street Pier in Long Beach, Calif., to a barge out in the harbor.
Pastrana has mastered the rally driving technique of sliding the car sideways through every corner, whether on dirt, gravel or tarmac. Because a rally is run over hundreds of miles of road, the driver rarely sees the same corner twice, so sliding the car into a corner is the quickest — and safest — way through the turn. Once the car is sliding, the driver can make adjustments throughout the turn with the steering wheel, throttle or hand brake.
Brazil's Bar Aurora hosts an intelligent, anti-drunk-driving ad.
Appeal to the weight of their wallet.
After the jump, a neat video from The Concept Mechanics shows what happens when regular bar-goers in Brazil have "the real costs of drunk driving" -- such as $980 for a day's stay in intensive care, a $3,050 ambulance tab and (gulp) $34,160 for an amputation -- added to their bar tabs.
The customers' reactions to seeing that they owe, say, $22,000 for a few beers are priceless. Even better, the stunt is a quick, high-impact and free way to get people's attention (especially when drunk) about the very real costs of driving while intoxicated. Check it out:
By Jake Lingeman
Porsche is recalling all 11,300 units of the 2010 Panamera to fix a problem with the front seat belts.
According to Porsche, the Panamera's seat belt mounts could fail in a crash when the front seats are in the full forward position. No injuries have been reported.
Anti-lock brakes sharply reduce motorcycle deaths.
Car-crash fatalities have fallen to record lows, thanks to safer cars, more people buckling up and fewer people drinking and driving.
It’s the opposite with motorcycles, though. Deaths from motorcycle crashes are on the upswing, with more than 5,000 fatalities in 2008 -- the most since the government started collecting bike-injury statistics in 1978. An explosion of new riders is largely behind the rise in injuries and deaths, with 7.7 million motorcycles registered in ’08 compared with 4.3 million in 2000.
The troubling trend led the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to study both causes and potential cures. New studies suggest that equipping more motorcycles with anti-lock brakes would make a huge difference in saving motorcyclists’ lives.
The IIHS looked at motorcycles produced from 2003 to 2008 and found that riders who chose models with anti-lock brakes were 37 percent less likely to be killed in a crash -- a remarkable edge for a single safety technology. The Highway Loss Data Institute found that ABS-equipped cycles had 22 percent fewer insurance damage claims compared with bikes without ABS.
USA Today reports diesels gaining ground in the U.S.
The major German automakers, such as Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, BMW, and Audi -- which sell big numbers of diesel vehicles in Europe -- have expressed encouragement at the pickup in interest in diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. Not to mention that some of the major Japanese automakers, including Mazda, are poised to enter the market with their own U.S.-spec diesels.
And while the fuel efficiency of diesels have never been in doubt (they can get up to 30 percent better fuel economy than a standard gasoline engine, and it's been found that this efficiency pays for its higher sticker price faster than even hybrid vehicles), but many car buyers still remember the smoky, belchy versions that stank up the nation's highways during the 1970s, and diesel's reputation has suffered ever since.
Car Care Council rolls out free podcasts on iTunes.
At least until this press release hit my inbox today, which details how the Car Care Council is rolling out a series of free podcasts on iTunes. Want to guess what they're about? (Yes, they deal with issues revolving around caring for your car -- tips, preventive maintenance, that sort of thing.)
You can find the first three podcasts here, and while you're rooting around, be sure to check out the council's digital car-care guide right here.
By Chrissie Thompson, Automotive News
The new V8s will differ from the current versions by using direct injection and a new combustion system, spokeswoman Sharon Basel said. The next-generation engines will also be lighter. GM will build them exclusively from aluminum, compared with the current versions' aluminum and iron makeup, Basel said. All of the engines will be able to run on E85 ethanol.
Top 10 mechanic scams.
The word "scam" may have a more sinister connotation here than what's really being discussed; for the most part, it's not about them upcharging for some completely made-up part or service, or swapping out your turbocharger to sell it on the black market. Rather, it's mostly about adding extra work, too soon -- which can in fact be more of a problem for those who are both careful about maintenance and susceptible to taking an expert at his word. As the article points out, many drivers can be talked into anything from new air filters to fresh struts to new brake pads, even when they're not yet necessary.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5