Posts from ‘Hot Laps’

Buying a Car During COVID-19

Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast

Whether you drive a car, need a car, or just occasionally bum a ride with friends, you’ve come to the right place. Join the editors of Consumer Guide Automotive as they break down everything that’s going on in the auto world. New-car reviews, shopping tips, driving green, electric cars, classic cars, and plenty of great guests. This is the Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast.

Shelby GT500 Gallery

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 goes sniffing for challenges on track or strip through a big grille and ducts that cool the engine, transmission, supercharger, and brakes. Shown here is a GT500 set up for drag racing with downforce-enhancing front-splitter wickers and rear-spoiler “Gurney flap” removed. Special tools for these parts are included with the car; so are instructions for optimal front camber settings.

If Ford Mustang and Shelby marketing chief Jim Owens is happy about anything, it’s this: “There is no better time to be a performance-car enthusiast than right now,” he says. No doubt he feels that way because for 2020 his stable of steeds has a new leader, the 760-horsepower Shelby GT500. It is, Owens notes, the fastest street-legal Mustang ever, either in a straight line or lapping a road course.

2018 Dodge Demon

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Consumer Guide Automotive It’s all about the launch.

That was the lesson we learned when Dodge invited a group of journalists up to US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, to pilot its new Challenger SRT Demon down a gen-u-ine drag strip – complete with burn-out box, gooey starting-line surface, staging lights, and a full quarter-mile run. The real deal. Personally, it was the first time I’d ever driven a car on a drag strip … at least, one that didn’t have center stripes and a grossly ignored speed-limit sign (don’t tell the feds). We also learned that getting the launch right is not nearly as easy as one might think.

Ralph Gilles Performance

Like lambs to the slaughter, some unsuspecting journalists took a lap around the Circuit of the Americas racetrack with Ralph Gilles at the wheel.

On a trip back to the airport at the conclusion of a recent Jeep press event, I overheard one of my cohorts describing his lap around the Circuit of the Americas racetrack with Ralph Gilles, head of Chrysler’s SRT brand, at the wheel. The fellow journalist was giving a play-by-play account while showing a video he had taken from the back seat. Much of it sounded familiar.

World Roadshow Driving Experience

For the autocross portion of the Porsche World Roadshow in Joliet, Illinois, participants got a warm-up lap and a “fast lap” in a new-for 2013 Boxster S with a professional driving instructor riding shotgun.

A thorough test drive is always an important part of any new-vehicle buying experience. However, when it comes to high-end performance cars and enthusiast buyers, a run-of-the-mill dealership test drive on city streets isn’t always sufficient to truly show off the vehicle’s capabilities. Luxury manufacturers realize this, and most of them offer a variety of brand-specific “driving experience” events that range from complimentary half-day product samplings to expensive, multiple-day high-performance-driving instruction courses. These events are held at various racetracks and private country club-style road courses around the country, usually during the summer months. Manufacturers get to showcase their current offerings and do a bit of direct marketing. Enthusiasts and prospective buyers get a dose of professional instruction and a supervised high-performance test-drive opportunity that’s (briefly) unconstrained by those pesky speed limits and traffic laws.

2012 Kia Rio 5 B-Spec Racer

2012 Kia Rio 5 B-Spec Racer

Many of us dream of being a race-car driver, but the money and time spent is often so prohibitive that most of us don’t bother. Thankfully, a new class of racing is emerging: the B-Spec class. This category is comprised of subcompact and compact cars lightly modified for racing. Even though it is an emerging segment, B-Spec racing is officially sanctioned by various motorsports associations, including World Challenge, GRAND-AM, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA).