Friday, November 30, 2012

Mazda Burnishes New Mazda6 Clean-Diesel Reputation

Mazda announces its participation in the 2013 Grand Am racing series in front of the media crowd gathered at the LA Auto Show during Press Days. Image Credit:Edmund Jenks (2012)

Mazda Burnishes New Mazda6 Clean-Diesel Reputation

Mazda North American Operations, in a move to further enhance its reputation as a company that builds cars that are fun to drive, announced that the new, redesigned Mazda6, Mazda's flagship mid-sized car, will be entered into the Grand Am series running on Mazda's SKYACTIV technology clean-diesel.

The 2014 Mazda6 will make its motorsports debut at the Rolex 24 endurance race on January 26-27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Mazda6 racecar will be powered by a Mazda SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel engine (video) and is being developed to compete in the new GRAND-AM GX class.

This announced entrant marks the first time a diesel-powered vehicle of any type will have ever raced at the Rolex 24. Mazda will be seeking their 24th class win in the American endurance classic, having most recently won in 2008 and 2010.

John Doonan, Motorsports Director, Mazda North American Operations noted that:

“We have been eager to announce this car for months, but had to wait until the production car was revealed. The SpeedSource engineering team, working with the Mazda engineers, have been flat out for months on engine development. We’re happy to report that the engine is meeting the performance targets for both power and endurance. That means 400+ hp for over 50 hours, with an engine that includes a very long list of production Mazda parts. This is not a pure race engine; it is a production block SKYACTIV-D. We’re excited about having our newest engine powering our newest car.”

A few of the Mazda Young Guns 2013 - Kenton Koch, Elliott Skeer, Gustavo Menezes, Joey Jordan, at LA Auto Show. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

The Mazda6 was one of the first models declared eligible for the GX class, along with Lotus Evora GX and Porsche Cayman. The class will help nurture emerging technologies such as alternative fuels.

When one first sees the redesigned Mazda6, one is struck at the overall upgrade to the styling, primarily with the front end grille and rear tail light configuration. The front impresses the eye with a look similar to a blending of a Mercedes and a Volvo (not bad styling company), with the rear leaving one with the feel of a high-end Lexus without the ridging jut of the tail-light ... the Mazda6 being smoothed and rounded, say sophisticated.

Strongly influenced by the TAKERI Concept, the Mazda6 makes no excuses for its style, safety and spunk – qualities usually absent in a mid-size sedan. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012) 

The GX racing version of the Mazda6 is being developed by SpeedSource and Mazda engineers. The challenge expects to have two factory entries ready to compete at Daytona.

GX will join the Daytona Prototype and GT classes in events sanctioned by Grand-Am Road Racing in 2013, the last year before Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series merge in a single organization that has yet to be named.

Models eligible for GX besides the Mazda6, Evora and Cayman include the Audi TT, BMW 1 Series, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus sedan, Hyundai Genesis, Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, Nissan 370Z or Altima, and Volkswagen Eos.

The KODO "Soul of Motion" design language commands and creates every facet of the vehicle's handsome sheet metal, from its alluringly swept elongated hood and cab-forward proportions to the chiseled steel shaping its frame, the Mazda6 suggests power and elegance before the gas pedal is even floored to go. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

In making its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the highly-anticipated mid-size sedan will go on sale in January 2013 and be equipped first with a SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine.  The SKYACTIV-D-equipped version will follow suit during the second half of the year, making Mazda the first Asian manufacturer to offer a modern-technology clean-diesel engine in a non-commercial vehicle. The 2014 Mazda6 also will be the first production vehicle to feature Mazda's capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system called i-ELOOP.

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as Mazda Burnishes New Mazda6 Clean-Diesel Reputation on Technorati **

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ford To Display Tanner Foust Signature Focus At LA Auto Show

The new TF logo-ed very high-powered Foust signature Ford Focus at the Irwindale Event Center (SEMA Video HERE). Image Credit: Doug Stokes (2012)

Ford To Display Tanner Foust Signature Focus At LA Auto Show

Multi-discipline race driver, movie stuntman, TV star, and now car designer, Tanner Foust, visited the Irwindale Event Center on Sunday to "break in" a (very) special, limited-edition Focus that not only looked like something Foust would be driving on the streets, but that had his name and his distinctive TF logo emblazoned all over it.

Close up of the "TF" logo-ed racing stripe on the new signature Ford Focus. Image Credit: Doug Stokes (2012)

The car was just "off the boat"(actually it had come over to LA by truck) from an award-winning turn as one of the stars of the recent SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The four door hatchback had barely 50 miles on the clock, and, although Foust had been behind the wheel for a whole bunch of publicity shots at SEMA ... He had not yet driven the sexy-bad prototype.

That's where an off-day on the vast, empty East parking lot at IEC came in handy. At 'Vegas the car was never even fired up, or let alone driven, so there was some interest in breaking it in and getting a bit of actual seat time before it was to be on display at the LA Auto Show scheduled to open to the press on Wednesday, the 28th.

As one might expect, the car ran flawlessly. There were no formal specs officially available at the IEC shakedown runs.  But, we can indicate that this special Foust-signature model was "loaded" with cool features, and that the horsepower rating for this very special edition turbo-charged 6-speed Focus ST model was (and we quote:) "Oh ... somewhere around 300."

Close up of the "TF" logo-ed rocker panel racing stripe on the side of the new signature Ford Focus. Image Credit: Doug Stokes (2012)

Foust's willing co-conspirator in the custom body, trick semi-gloss silvery paint, and cool interior work was none other than Mike Spagnola, chief instigator and grand major-domo of Street Scene Equipment the well-known southern California custom body parts manufacturer. The basic look here is best explained as "stylistically belligerent". Subtlety is sure not the strong suite here. They WILL see you coming in this one (and a millisecond later they'll see you going).

All of the (by now) frothing at the bit Focus fans will have to wait for the magazine articles and web reviews to get all of the specs as well as to find out the information on where to buy one of these way cool little Ford supercars designed (and now test-driven at Irwindale) by Foust, who admitted to being much more familiar with the race track than the parking lot, having tested many cars for TV and raced successfully there numerous times in pro Drifting and Rallycross events there over the past years.

See the Tanner Foust signature Ford Focus on display at the LA Auto Show which opens on November 30th, 2012 and runs through December 9th, 2012.
(ht: Irwindale Event Center)

... notes from The EDJE 

** Article first published as Ford To Display Tanner Foust Signature Focus At LA Auto Show on Technorati **

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another of the really Great Guys is gone.

Editor's Note. Just before the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas we lost our good friend Jon Knapp, our prayers go out to his family and friends. I will miss you Jon. And now I find out my good friend Dick Dixon has passed away. Dick and I had many things left to do together, and now they just won't get done. Dicken Wear.

Below is the story by Jef White. (Thanks Jef).

Our hearts are heavy.
Dick Dixon—a racer, professor, columnist, industry advocate, mentor, enthusiast, colleague and friend to all of us at Performance Business—died overnight on Friday, Nov. 16.
Many, many people in the aftermarket will remember him as a performance junkie and industry torchbearer with an indomitable spirit and a heart of gold. Quick with a smile and a wink, he was the guy at the trade show that everyone knew—a bundle of positive energy that projected optimism, fun and a can-do attitude.
Spend even a little time with him and it was easy to pinpoint the true passions in his life. His wife Judi. Racing. Teaching. His friends. His students. Indianapolis and theIndy 500. Anybody and everybody working to make the performance aftermarket a better place.
He came on board as a writer not too long after we started publishing the magazine in 2003. In a stroke of genius, he and former editor Kristian Wieber dubbed his column The Professor Files—a perfect name for his monthly lessons on business management, leadership and the basics of surviving and thriving in a competitive environment. Each article projected the universal knowledge and logic only those born to teach can convey: You can do it. Here’s a framework to accomplish your goals. Work hard. Believe in yourself. Success is inevitable.
When I came back to the magazine in 2009, we were soon working together as if we’d known each other for decades. On the happy occasions I’d get to see him in person, we’d sit down to breakfast or walk the aisles of a convention center, discussing column topics and pressing issues of the day between the many wonderful interruptions of his old friends and well-wishers looking for a handshake or more often a hug.
Of course, he did most of the talking and I did most of the listening: Inspired thoughts on the industry. Exciting tales of his racing days. An absolutely riveting account of what it’s like to pilot a land-speed car.
By editing his column, however, I felt like I knew him that much better. Every month for an hour or two, usually in the afternoon, I’d sit down with his latest submission, just him and I, hoping to polish and clarify when needed while retaining his unique voice—and learning something new myself in the process. It’s time I realize I will surely miss in the months and years ahead.
Readers know that he ended each piece with a hearty “Cheers ‘n gears,” a nod to happiness and racing intertwined. Just above that, he’d include a paragraph encouraging anyone with thoughts or questions to contact him directly to discuss issues further.
And as part of that invitation, he would add a sentence thanking me and the magazine for allowing him the opportunity to write for us. Each time it was worded a little differently, but the sentiment was always the same: it was his pleasure to be a part of the publication, he’d say, his privilege to be able to share his words with the world.
It’s the type of sentiment editors are taught to remove from otherwise serious copy. But it shows just what type of person he was. He knew I’d edit it out, but he’d write it anyway, every month—just to let me know that he cared about what he was doing, that he appreciated the chance to reach all of you.
Now that he’s gone, it’s our turn to tell Judi and all of his friends who are hurting what we told him a million times in response and wish we could tell him a million more—that we are the ones who are thankful for the very good fortune to have shared a small part of his life. It was our privilege to work with him. The pleasure was all ours.
Sadly, The Professor Files are now closed. Cheers ‘n gears, Dick.