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October 2008

Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

October 06, 2008

Bob Sr.'s Weekend Racing Highlights

Editor's Note: Bob Sr. is my dad. He has been racing cars for almost 50 years. If he's not racing on the weekend you'll find him watching auto racing on TV. Every Monday he'll post an update with highlights and the inside scoop on the previous weekend’s big races.

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The American LeMans Series (LeMans Prototypes and GT Racecars)
Road Atlanta, The Petit LeMans

Picture_38The next to last race of this professional series at Road Atlanta, Georgia saw favorite Allen McNish crash his Audi LMP1 on the warm-up lap! He is the winner of 8 straight races in the series and his chances looked hopeless. He apologized profusely to his crew and swore if they could fix it he'd drive it like never before. In this 1000 mile race he shares the car with Renaldo Capello and Emanule Pirro. Under these circumstances he took on the lion’s share of driving.

Starting 2 laps down he needed precise pit stop strategy. It took most of 10 hours to get back into contention, but that he did making a brilliant out-braking maneuver minutes from the finish.

Picture_39 This race was really one between the two manufacturers, Audi and Peugeot. This was the Peugeot Team's first venture into the series and they have already shown great promise. In the previous LeMans 24 hour race in France this past Spring they set the fastest time.

Peugeot's Minassian took the pole this weekend. Sarazin and ex-Formula One driver Christian Klien were his co-drivers. The Peugeot had more power and was able to reach higher straight-away speeds, but after 10 hours McNish was somehow able to not only catch but pass Klien! This was truly a heroic drive for McNish.

I thought Minassian was the faster Peugeot driver and should have been left in the car to fight McNish, especially given that Klien had never driven the car or the track before this weekend. In the pitch dark the attrition was heavy and closing speeds of the faster cars led to some spectacular crashes. At the post-race interview the diminutive Scotsman said "I'm really proud of this one…" It was one for the books.

Emanuele Pirro, McNish' co-driver said "Allen would not have been happy with a normal win, he had to make it extraordinary".

Scott Sharp put a damper on the Acura Teams chances by crashing early in the race during the first driver stint.

Coming in 3rd just 7.5 seconds behind was the other Team Audi R10 of Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner.

In a separate class (LMP2) the Penske Porsche team of Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves won while always maintaining a top five or six car position overall. The GM Corvette Team in GT1 class won again to cinch their class championship with Jan Magnussen, Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows again the class of the GT1 field.

Jaime Melo and Mika Salo won the GT2 class in their Ferrari 430GT having won both the Petit LeMans and the 24 Hour Endurance LeMans classic.

The next American LeMans Series race is set for Oct. 18th at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. This four hour race going from daylight to darkness should be exciting once again.

NASCAR
Picture_41 Tony Stewart wins at Talladega
for the first time ever and it was his first win this year in a race where "The Big Ones" took most of the Chase drivers out.

Talladega noted for big multi-car crashes did not disappoint. Traveling 3 and 4 abreast, nose to tail lap after lap at 200 mph …shit happens. Fans love it though. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt. Just a lot of hurt feelings and empty wallets. The finish was in doubt for a bit as Regan Smith passed Tony going under the out-of-bounds yellow line right at the finish. Initially Smith and his crew celebrated, but track officials ruled Stewart the winner.

October 05, 2008

Cody Chevrolet Car Show

We checked out a well attended car show at Cody Chevrolet in Montpelier, VT yesterday. There was supposed to be a "Burn-out" contest at 3:30pm, but they started it early and we missed it! Darn it, that sounded like fun. Check out the cars in the photo slideshow below. They had some nice rides there. If you know who organized this event have them drop me an email at goodcarma@sevendaysvt.com. I want to make sure we don't miss their next show.

October 03, 2008

Autocross Crash

Last weekend I drove in my first Autocross. My wife Christine, always the cautious one, did some pre-event research and came across this video of a drive through the cones gone bad. Enjoy! If you're a sadist...

October 01, 2008

Auto Finder on the Radio

Here is the first radio commercial for Auto Finder. We are playing it on 3 local stations, 95 Triple X, MP103 and The Point.
Have you heard it on the radio? Let us know what you think?

It's less than 1MB, but you'll need to give it a few seconds to load.

Yin and Yang

Mma_fighter_car_salesman_2 Burlington resident Noah Weisman is an affable car salesman by day and a dangerous mixed-martial-arts fighter by night. I spoke with him last week to uncover how these two seeming opposites work together.

BOB KILPATRICK: You’ve got a big fight coming up. How do you prepare?

NOAH WEISMAN: A lot of endurance training. I make sure to get to Vermont Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as much as I can. We do a lot of grappling, striking, like punching and kicking. Kickboxing and jiu-jitsu all the time, that’s what I grew up on.

BK: How do you prepare to sell a car?
NW: You’ve got to really pay attention to the customers’ needs, and you’ve got to find what suits them the best. When they come in, you don’t want to show them something they can’t afford. You don’t want to show them something that’s not going to be useful to them. So you have to listen.

BK: So you can’t really prepare to know what they want. You have to know your product line well enough that when they tell you what they need —
NW: — you can tell them, “I’ve got the perfect car for you.”

BK: How long have you been working at Burlington Mitsubishi-Suzuki?
NW: I’ve been there since December of last year, going on a year now.

BK: What’s the coolest car you have on the lot?
NW: Our top-selling cars right now are our Mitsubishi Lancer and our Suzuki SX4.

BK: Tell me about the Suzuki SX4.
NW: The SX4 is America’s least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle. It’s got a lot of flexibility. It will convert from front-wheel drive to automatic all-wheel-drive to all-wheel-drive lock mode for driving in snow and mud. It’s smaller than the Honda CRV. Its main competition is probably the Nissan Versa, the Honda Fit and the Toyota Matrix.

BK: If you could buy any new car, what would you buy?
NW: My favorite car right now is the Mitsubishi Lancer GTS. It’s just a dynamite car. Just change the oil and put gas in it, and that’s all you’ve got to do. It’s a sporty, sporty car. It’s got the 2.4-liter engine. The automatic comes with a quick, six-speed paddle shifter. It’s dynamite. NASCAR helped design this car.

BK: The Lancer is a rally car, right?
NW: The Lancer Evolution is the real rally car. It’s the really souped-up version of the Lancer. It’s a whole different animal, that car.

BK: What’s a typical day for you like at the dealership?
NW: Be there at 8:30 a.m. Put the sale signs up on the hoods of the cars out front, start filling up some balloons. We have a morning meeting, a lot of phone calls, and then people start coming in. Hopefully, sell some cars.

BK: I would assume that being an MMA fighter might make you a better salesperson because of the confidence you would develop, but does being a salesperson help you be better prepared for an MMA fight?
NW: Yeah, it pays for my classes. It pays for me to be able to train. Gives me a place to live.

BK: Tell me about your fight background.
NW: I’ve had two fights now. I fought and won in the last two Burlington Brawls and now I’m looking to step up to some bigger fights with an organization in the Midwest. One is called Superior Cage Fighting in Ohio and the other is a King of the Cage event in Wisconsin.

BK: Do you have a favorite move that you like to use in a fight?
NW: I like submissions. It’s when you force someone to tap. You bend an arm in the wrong direction. It’s the manipulation of somebody’s body in a direction it shouldn’t be going.

BK: That’s your favorite move in a fight. Do you have a favorite move on the showroom floor?
NW: I think you really need to have a good first impression with somebody. You need to be personable and smile. Have fun with everybody — whether they’re going to buy a car or not, you’ve got to have fun.

BK: You work long hours at the dealership and train in your off time. What do you do to relax?
NW: I relax with my kids every night when I get home, and I have Sundays off. I’ve got a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old, all boys: Yashiah, Zachariah and Ezra.

BK: Do you think they’ll do MMA someday?
NW: Yeah, they train jiu-jitsu right now. My 7-year-old son, he’ll throw an arm bar like the rest of them, I’ll tell you that much. He’s great. He’s been coming to class since he was 2 years old, just watching us all. He loves it.

BK: Do you think there’s anything negative about a kid learning an aggressive sport like MMA?
NW: No, I think it’s good control, because when they are training with each other, the boys know to tap, and they know that when somebody taps they stop. And nobody’s been hurt. They play football, too, and the last time I watched them play, there were three kids laid out on the field in a 7-year-old’s game. And so far my kids haven’t been hurt with boxing gloves on.

Cone Heads

(Editor's note: This article appeared in our paper on Wednesday, September 24, 2008. See video coverage of the recent SCCV Autocross event on yesterday's post Man and Machine.)

Auto racing is fun to watch on TV, but I’m the kind of guy who would rather get out there and try something myself. Many people drive fast, but what’s the best way to do it safely? How does someone go about learning how to race cars?

The Sports Car Club of Vermont (SCCV) has been actively gathering auto enthusiasts since 1956 and bringing them together to practice the skills necessary to excel as a driver. I met with Jim Bauman from the SSCV to find out what they are doing and how someone could get involved.

Auto_cross_subaru_wrx_sti Bob Kilpatrick: What is your organization all about?
Jim Bauman: We have been around for just over fifty years. Mostly it’s been grassroots events. Autocrosses, car shows. When Malletts Bay freezes over with adequate ice we do ice time trials. We’re going to be partnering up with the Northeast Region of the SCCA on a RallyCross and a time speed distance rally in early November hosted by Sugarbush.

BK: Tell me about the big event you are having this weekend.
JB: We are having an Autocross this Sunday at Stowe. An Autocross is a timed event - low speed and precision driving - done in a parking lot around cones. You need a helmet, but other than that your car doesn’t need any real preparation. You’re trying to get through the course as fast as possible without going off-course or hitting any cones.

BK: People coming in to the club, I don’t imagine they all know how to drive properly. Do you provide any kind of instruction?
JB: The more experienced members of the club are always willing to do a ride-along. The person who is experienced jumps in the passenger seat giving you pointers as you go through the course. Or vice versa, you could have the person actually drive your car with you in the passenger seat and show you their line, how they do it, talk you through it. We always make that available. It’s very low pressure. If you don’t know what you’re doing it’s okay.

The typical first timer will come in and over-drive. They’ll try to go to fast and they’ll go off course. You either need to tame your aggressiveness or fill in your caution with speed. It’s fun to watch people go through that progression.

It’s really good to provide a venue for young drivers that want to see what their car can do, but we don’t want them doing it out in the street. If you’ve ever been woken up in the middle of the night by a kid tearing around a school parking lot because he’s trying to figure out if he can drift his STI - that’s great, but it’s not safe and it’s not legal. Autocross is both safe and legal.

Auto_cross_mazda_miata BK: What are some of the popular makes and models in the club?
JB: In Vermont the most seen are Subarus - STIs and WRXs. There is a huge Volkswagen and Audi contingent up here as well. You’ll always see a lot of older VW Rabbits and now GTIs. For autocross events the car to have is a [Mazda] Miata. We have a ton of Miatas in our club. It’s the kind of car that you can run all summer long, put it away in the winter, bring it out in April and be ready to go.

BK: You’re a fan of traditional auto racing, any particular group or driver?
JB: Definitely Formula 1 and sports car racing is where it’s at - road courses - the American Lemans series. I love to watch drivers that can jump into different kinds of cars and go really fast no matter what. Nascar is interesting to me, but it’s more interesting when they go to places like Sears Point or Watkins Glen and see what the oval guys can do on the road courses.

BK: Do you have any drivers you consider yourself a fan of or try to emulate their skills?
JB: I don’t know about emulating. I don’t think I have the kind of talent like those guys who get payed to do it. In terms of all time - Ayrton Senna (1960-1994) is my all time idol. The guy could just control a race in any variety of conditions. He’d just decide that he wanted to win and he’d go out there and do it. Today I think guys like Lewis Hamilton coming up is a pretty amazing talent and just last weekend we had a twenty one year old guy [Sebastian Vettel] win the Italian Grand Prix - just crazy.

BK: Every Monday morning my dad, Bob Sr., is posting the highlights of the previous weekends racing on my Good Carma blog. It’s a lot of fun. You’ll find a kindred spirit as Formula 1 and road tracks are definitely his thing and what he has been doing for his whole life.
JB: Very cool.

The SCCV Autocross takes place this Sunday, September 28th, 2008 at the Stowe Mountain Resort in their Mount Mansfield Base Lodge parking lot.
Registration is from 8 to 9am. Racing starts at 9:15am. The course is broken down by 3pm. Cost to participate is $30 for SCCV members and $35 for non-members. There is no cost for spectators.

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