Motorsports: FIA gears up to launch new Formula 4 championships worldwide

Filed under: Motorsports, Racing

Dallara F4

Formula One may get all the glory – and rightfully so – but it’s not the only racing formula out there. There are many steps along the motorsports ladder, but they’re all run by different authorities and under different names. There’s GP2, GP3, Formula Three, Auto GP, Formula Renault, Formula Ford, Formula BMW, Formula Vee… the list goes on, and leaves some rungs missing on the ladder up to the big leagues in some countries. But Gerhard Berger is keen on fixing that. The former F1 driver – winner of ten grands prix for teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton – serves as the president of the FIA’s Single-Seater Commission, and he’s out to launch a new class of Formula 4 around the world. The idea is to provide a stepping stone between karting and Formula 3, which is too expensive for many would-be racers to get into without the sponsorship that can be attracted in lower formulae.

Rather than launch the new FIA F4 category as one unified series, with one engine and one chassis, the idea is to make it as diverse as possible. Individual countries are being encouraged to run their own F4 championship, yet each can choose its own engine supplier (conforming to a common 1.6-liter, 150-horsepower standard) and different chassis suppliers are being invited to participate.

One of them is Dallara, the Italian chassis constructor that makes race cars for numerous other single-seater series, including IndyCar and the FIA’s new Formula E series. Dallara has given little in the way of details about the new design, but it looks to incorporate a comprehensive aero package including front and rear wings and underbody ground effects.The FIA is calling for carbon-fiber construction to keep things light, strong and safe. Similar to its F3 chassis, however, Dallara plans on adapting the new F4 platform to accommodate different engine installations, including a possible hybrid version, for whatever power the individual national series organizers choose.

Dallara expects to launch the new car next spring, when it will have to compete with other chassis constructors as well on racetracks around the world. In addition to launching new series in some countries, Berger and company are looking to bring into the fold existing championships like Germany’s ADAC Formel Masters, France’s Signatech Formula 4, Italy’s Formula Abarth and Britain’s Formula Ford – many of which already have their own constructors in place.

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FIA gears up to launch new Formula 4 championships worldwide originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 31 Aug 2013 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: New NASCAR tire tech to debut in Atlanta this weekend

Filed under: Motorsports, Safety, Technology, Racing

Goodyear Eagle Multi-Zone Racing Tire for NASCARAside from the antics of the Busch brothers and Tony Stewart’s uncensored comments, some of the biggest controversies in NASCAR are directed at the tires used on the cars. Goodyear can’t do anything about Kurt, Kyle or Tony, but it is looking improve the quality of its rubber by introducing a new type of racing tires for this weekend’s event at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Developed from the same technology behind Goodyear’s Assurance TripleTred passenger tire, the new Multi-Zone Tread Technology debuting in NASCAR uses multiple rubber compounds in the hopes of optimizing performance, safety and durability. Goodyear says that Atlanta is a good test track for the new technology since it has an abrasive surface, long race length and high vehicle speeds. The new compound will only be used on the right-side tires only (click on the image for a larger view of what’s a work here).

Scroll down for the official press release about the new tires, and check out how they perform this weekend at the Nationwide Great Clips-Grit Chips 300 tomorrow and the Sprint Cup Advocare 500 on Sunday.

Continue reading New NASCAR tire tech to debut in Atlanta this weekend

New NASCAR tire tech to debut in Atlanta this weekend originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Redline debuts with Battle of Motorsports in first episode

Filed under: Motorsports, Videos, Australia, Racing, Comparisons

The first episode of Redline, a new automotive web video, pits seven racecars from different backgrounds against each other.

What do you get when you mix YouTube and Ketzal Sterling of the High Octane DVD series? Another web-video series about high-performance cars with a motorsport twist and juvenile humor. Redline is the newest show by Sterling, and the man devised an epic shootout of seven seriously quick race machines for the first episode.

The catch is that each of the vehicles represents a different motorsport background. Machines that make an appearance include a Super Touring Ford V8; Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution rally car; S14.5-generation time attack Nissan Silvia; Suzuki GSX-R1000 motorcycle; FC-generation Mazda RX-7 drift car (with V8 swap); Subaru WRX STI gymkhana car; and KZ2-class shifter kart.

While the inclusion of one of the entries virtually gives away the winner, we won’t spoil it for you. And it might be closer than you think. Scroll down to watch the Battle of Motorsports episode, which has some substance and is enjoyable if you can put up with the humor and obnoxiously loud narration.

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Redline debuts with Battle of Motorsports in first episode originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Aug 2013 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: Race Recap: Belgian Grand Prix is new skirmishes, same war [spoilers]

Filed under: Motorsports, Europe, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, McLaren

It’s been four weeks since we last saw a Formula One race, when Lewis Hamilton improbably put his Mercedes-AMG Petronas in P1 in Hungary. Even more improbably, he held onto the first spot at the finish of the race, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen in the Lotus and Sebastian Vettel in the Infiniti Red Bull.

Resuming the season at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit this weekend, Hamilton picked up his recent – and just as improbable – pole-setting form by putting the Mercedes in P1 for the fourth time in a row. The effort came during a qualifying session visited by intermittent rains and dry spells, his 54th trip to the front of the pack, tying Niki Lauda.

But neither the fireworks and surprises, the mid-field full of backmarkers, nor the tire strategies and timing choices changed the mission for the drivers in with a chance at the title: finish in front of Vettel.

Continue reading Race Recap: Belgian Grand Prix is new skirmishes, same war [spoilers]

Race Recap: Belgian Grand Prix is new skirmishes, same war [spoilers] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 26 Aug 2013 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: Dutch rally duo die in WRC support event [w/video]

Filed under: Motorsports, Classics, Europe, Videos

1980 Triumph TR7 at 2013 ADAC Rallye Deutschland

Tragedy stuck this weekend at the site of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland when a driver and co-driver team from the Netherlands were killed in a crash on Saturday. The incident occurred not in the headline World Rally Championship event, but in a classic support rally.

According to reports, Rob de Vos and Marcel Benning lost control of their 1980 Triumph TR7 (a car you can see in the brief tribute video below) as they flew over the infamous Gina jump on the Arena Panzerplatte section that was once used to test tanks. The WRC cars had already passed at that point, but officials canceled the next stage that was supposed to go over the same section again due to the tragedy.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the friends and family that de Vos and Benning leave behind.

Continue reading Dutch rally duo die in WRC support event [w/video]

Dutch rally duo die in WRC support event [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 25 Aug 2013 14:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: The fireproof history of Sparco Motorsports

Filed under: Motorsports, Safety, Videos

A blue patch with white embroidered letters that spell out “sparco,” all in lower case – you’ve seen it so often you ignore it, it’s such a common site on drivers’ suits and racing seats. But there’s so much about Sparco that probably few know – us included.

The 35-year-old Italian firm was started by two rally drivers after the FIA mandated fireproof clothing for racers to combat a spate of injuries and deaths due to fires. One of the founders just happened to be the son of an Italian businessman who made equipment for fire departments and knew all about Nomex. Voila, the marriage of “safety and Italian design” was commenced.

Sparco does more than make suits and own-brand seats, though. The “largest manufacturer of safety equipment in the world,” the company produces seats and seat forms for manufacturers like Aston Martin and Ferrari, and it makes carbon parts for Bugatti and Lamborghini. You can get the rest of the story by watching the video below.

The fireproof history of Sparco Motorsports originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 24 Aug 2013 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: First X Games Gymkhana GRID race is officially in the books [w/video]

Filed under: Motorsports, Videos, Celebrities, Racing

2013 X-Games Gymkhana GRID

If you don’t want to know who won the first-ever X Games Gymkhana GRID event, which just happened late last night in Los Angeles, now would be the time to stop reading.

Still there? Okay, good. In the end, it came down to Tanner Foust and Patrick Sandell, with Foust managing to win the first two races of the best-out-of-three format. Ken Block, who’s name is synonymous with Gymkhana, was taken out in the quarterfinals by Liam Doran, who went on to win the bronze medal.

We were on hand at the event, and we came away with plenty of tire-smoking live images for your viewing pleasure. After checking those out, why not scroll down and watch the main event yourself in the video below? Also, don’t forget that the Rallycross event takes place later tonight – we will, of course, be there to bring you all the details.

Continue reading First X Games Gymkhana GRID race is officially in the books [w/video]

First X Games Gymkhana GRID race is officially in the books [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 04 Aug 2013 08:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: Mazda Skyactiv-D racer first diesel to run at Indy in 60 years

Filed under: Motorsports, Sedan, Mazda, Diesel, Racing

While it may not be touting the old “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” axiom we all know and love, Mazda recognizes that racing can only improve its cars. And so it’s no surprise that the Japanese automaker is testing and refining its Skyactiv-D diesel engine by sending it out on various race tracks around the country – notably being the first diesel ever to compete at Daytona and the first to notch a Grand Am win at Road Atlanta.

Next up? Indy. It has been over 60 years since a diesel-powered machine ran at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Cummins-powered racer that competed in the 1952 Indy 500 with a 6.6-liter inline-six-cylinder oil-burner was a fast and brutal machine that set a new lap record in qualifying leading up to the race. Though that car was withdrawn with turbocharger failure 71 laps in, its diesel powerplant left an indelible impression on the racing community, and that’s something Mazda hopes to accomplish once again.

Mazda says that the diesel engine in its race car is pretty darn close to stock – 51 percent stock by parts count, and 63 percent stock by weight – which means the way it performs in competition is at least a somewhat meaningful way to the stock engine’s durability in the real world. Check out the image of the Mazda6 Skyactiv-D racer posing alongside the 1952 Cummins above (click to enlarge) and feel free to peruse the press release below for the rest of the details.

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Mazda Skyactiv-D racer first diesel to run at Indy in 60 years originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: Son resurrecting Mickey Thompson’s LSR Streamliner for Bonneville run [w/videos]

Filed under: Motorsports, Classics, Performance, Videos, Specialty, Racing

Mickey Thompson Autolite Special - vintage LSR car photograph at Bonneville

You’ve probably heard of Mickey Thompson, if not for racing home-built Indy cars or punting early Funny Cars down drag strips, perhaps for the tire company he founded, his successful forays into off-road racing or, crucially, his attempts to break land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. In 1960, he became the fastest man in the world after going 406 miles per hour in his race car, the brutish four-engined Challenger I, but the record was never completed and made official due to a breakdown on the return run.

Tragedy struck when Mickey and his wife were murdered in front of their house.

“After years of planning to build a car that would go even faster than the Challenger I, things came together for Thompson in 1968, when his collaboration with Ford to put Mustang bodies onto his Funny Car drag racers morphed into something much bigger: the Challenger II LSR Streamliner. “The Challenger II project actually evolved out of a larger program originally intended to generate buzz for the introduction of the 1969 Mach I Mustang,” Danny Thompson, Mickey’s son, explained to Autoblog in an e-mail. “[Ford] decided to take three Mustangs to Bonneville and break as many records as they could,” he said, and Mickey Thompson was going to do the same with Funny Cars and the Challenger II using Ford’s 427 SOHC motorsport engine.

Ford was also closely involved with the design of the Challenger II through their Kar Kraft specialty shop,” Danny Thompson related. Ed Hull, who was involved with the GT40 Mark IV Le Mans racer, was just one of the sharp minds at Ford who contributed to the Challenger II, but Mickey Thompson and his hand-picked team were responsible for its construction.

And that’s where the Challenger II story ended, at least officially. It was prepared in time for Speed Week at the Salt Flats, and test runs were proving its mettle, but the dry lake bed wasn’t ready for the Challenger II after an unseasonal storm flooded the course. Even worse, 1969 brought no relief to Thompson and his team when Ford pulled the plug on racing activities. Years later, Mickey Thompson and his son planned to revive the Challenger II for a record-setting run in 1989, but tragedy struck when Mickey and his wife were murdered in front of their house, nixing any plans of running the streamliner. Scroll down to keep reading and to watch the videos.

Continue reading Son resurrecting Mickey Thompson’s LSR Streamliner for Bonneville run [w/videos]

Son resurrecting Mickey Thompson’s LSR Streamliner for Bonneville run [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Jul 2013 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Snake and Mongoose is this summer’s other motorsports movie

Filed under: Motorsports, Videos, TV/Movies

Dragster on a run in Snake & Mongoose.

Rush is the Formula One epic that everyone in the auto industry is talking about, thanks to its A-list director and star actor (Ron Howard and Chris Hemsowrth, respectively). But just because Rush has Opie Taylor and Thor involved, doesn’t mean it’ll be the only racing movie of the year.

There’s another flick, and we’ve covered it before. It’s called Snake & Mongoose, and it’s about as far removed from F1 as possible. It’s theatrical trailer has just hit the internet, and we thought you’d like a look.

Starring Jesse Williams and Richard Blake, Snake & Mongoose tells the story of a pair of southern California drag racers that revolutionized the sport, both in terms of their rivalry and the way they marketed themselves. See that Hot Wheels dragster sitting on your desk? You can thank these two guys for it.

The production value doesn’t look quite as impressive as Rush, but the story looks every bit as gripping. Snake & Mongoose hits theaters on September 6. Click below for the full trailer.

Continue reading Snake and Mongoose is this summer’s other motorsports movie

Snake and Mongoose is this summer’s other motorsports movie originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 19 Jul 2013 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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