Thursday, December 12, 2013

Interview With J.P. Montoya Conducted At Auto Club Speedway

JPM as he commands a Dallara DW12 around Phoenix International Raceway. Image Credit: IndyCar Series

Interview With J.P. Montoya Conducted At Auto Club Speedway

In an interview with past North American open-wheel CART champion, F1, Indianapolis 500, and the 24 Hours of Daytona race winning driver, Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM) at Auto Club Speedway on Monday (audio link below), he was very clear on this difference in driving a DW12 over a NASCAR Cup Car.

On Tuesday, Penske Racing team-mate Helio Castroneves and JPM took to the reconfigured and updated ‘oval’ track in Phoenix. After a very productive outing, JPM shared his thoughts with IndyCar.

This excerpted and edited from – 

Montoya’s testing program includes two fast ovals
By Dave Lewandowski – Published: Dec 10, 2013

Juan Pablo Montoya completed Round 2 of his acclimation to the Chevrolet-powered No. 2 Team Penske car Dec. 10. This outing was on the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval.

Last month, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner tested on the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway short course. Up next is a rescheduled session Dec. 12 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval and a Dec. 16 date at the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway. Helio Castroneves, the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up and three-time Indy 500 champion, and four-time 500 Mile Race champion Rick Mears joined Montoya at Phoenix.

“Well, my first impression was when Helio started running. We did some laps in the road car and I said in NASCAR we brake here and here,” Montoya relayed. “And he was like, ‘No, this is going to be wide open.’I’m like, ‘What?’ I will tell you, if you are standing in pit road and watch in Turn 1 how the car goes. In the straight it just goes fast, but you don’t really realize how fast he’s going until he turns and the thing just snaps into the corner. And then you like into (Turns) 3 and 4 and you know, ‘Wow.’ Your foot never moved. For me, the big difference is the entry to the corner. Once you get to the middle of the corner, whatever speed you have, you are committed to. You can see the exit, too, and you’re like, ‘Ahhh.’

“You just want to build to it and get comfortable with the feel. I’m still understanding what the car wants and what I want out of the car. You forget how fast an open-wheel car is (on the Phoenix oval). Around 6 seconds quicker than a Cup car a lap.”

“It’s funny because it’s a lighter car, but the wheel is like – everybody complained when I ran NASCAR how heavy my wheel was, everybody that drove my car, and honestly because we have no power steering, that’s how heavy it is,” Montoya continued. “What I remember, road courses, I understand it’s heavy, but I never thought that it would be heavy on an oval, but it’s like, ‘Hold your breath and turn.’ It’s breathtaking. The more laps I do, the easier it becomes, and it’s just that little bit.”
[Reference Here] 
Interview with Juan Pablo Montoya during a scheduled testing session at Fontana this week which was postponed due to high Santa Ana winds. Click photo above to launch audio of interview (6:13)

JPM elaborated that the cockpit is much tighter than a stock car, so consequently, the arms use different muscles – it is like the difference between having the steering wheel very close to one’s chest and theelbows out (Cup style) vs having one’s arms straight out in front with less side-to-side leverage (Indy style) in order to turn the steering wheel – again, this requires the use of different muscles. Juan Pabloshared that this revelation has had him change his gym training regimen in order to build up the correct set of muscles in his arms.

Following a break for the holidays, Montoya will join Castroneves and Will Power for a manufacturer test in mid-January at Sebring. An Open Test is scheduled for March 16-17 at Barber Motorsports Park, and the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 28-30.

… notes from The EDJE

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mazda Teams Score At The US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill

The three Mazda teams raced brand-new 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel racecars.  These are not the same SpeedSource cars that won the 2013 Grand-Am GX Manufacturers Championship -- these are far-more production-based. Mechanically, the cars remain nearly stock, but the interiors were removed to accommodate an Anthony Woodford Racing roll-cage, a Sparco Pro-ADV racing seat , Safecraft racing seatbelts and plumbed-in fire systems and AIM MXL Pista dashes and data acquisition. Image Credit: Mazda Motorsports

Mazda Teams Score At The US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill

The USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill saw a field of 57 cars racing in six classes (ES, ESR, E0, E1, E2, E3) going twice around the clock plus an hour over the 2.86-mile, 15-turn track located 90-minutes north of Sacramento.

The Venn, or set diagram that best showcases Mazda Motorsports and its efforts in motor culture are
the overlapping portions of participants measured between endurance racing and club racing. This overlap was showcased on a brisk, but clear weekend at the longest endurance race in America, the National Auto Sport Association (NASA)’s US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill.  Of the 57 cars (60 entered) that took the green flag on Saturday, 16 of them were Mazda-powered, more than any other marque/brand. When the checkered flag dropped on Sunday, three of the six classes had Mazda racers on the podium, led by Mazda class-wins in the E2 and E3 classes.

Of particular interest to Mazda employees and dealers was the “Factory Guys versus Dealers” battle in identically prepared, modified-for-racing 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D clean diesels. The final score was dealers over the factory guys, but ultimately it was a win-win as the three Mazda6s were perfect on the powertrain front, all three finishing.  A few minor racing-related incidents resulted in suspension repairs, but great driving and amazing fuel economy meant that the #55 Mazda6, driven by Mazda dealers Richard Fisher (The Autobarn Mazda, Evanston, IL), Joel Weinberger (Continental Motors, Naperville, IL) and Taz Harvey (Dublin Mazda, Tracy Mazda, Dublin/Tracy, CA) finished on the podium in the E1 class.  The second Mazda dealer car finished fifth with the Mazda employees sixth.

“While Le Mans and Daytona are better known endurance races, the Thunderhill 25 can make a claim as being every bit as challenging,” said Robert Davis, MNAO Senior Vice President, US Operations. “For Mazda to come here with three brand new cars, prepped by volunteer employees on their own time, and a team of dealers and employees to drive them, speaks volumes about our cars and our people.  Equally important is having another dozen-plus customer teams who chose to race our products.  Success at this track is a combination of having the right cars and the right teams, and a little racing luck, and we’re pleased to have two more wins here.  Congratulations to everyone at Sector Purple Racing and RJ Racing on their E2 and E3 wins.”

Mazda class winners and podium finishers at the US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill:

Finish Position  -  Class  -  Car #  -  Team  -  Model

3rd Place  E1  No. 55  Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 Dealers A - Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel

The E2 Class winning No. 78 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata. Image Credit: NASA

The E2 Class was won by is the No. 78 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata, driven by  Kyle Watkins, Dan Williams, Glen Conser and Robert W. Ames.
"The plan was to come out stay incident free and not be off the track," Conser said. "We got good gas mileage, saved the tires and we put together a solid effort.  We had some contact in the middle of the night when Dan was driving, but that was about it for our trouble. We had very smooth pit stops and overall just ran a great race."

1st Place  E2  No. 78  Sector Purple Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata

The E3 Class the No. 23 RJ Racing Mazda Miata. Image Credit: NASA

 In the E3 Class the No. 23 RJ Racing Mazda Miata driven by John Gibson, Rob Gibson, Jamie Florence, Roger Eagleton, Gary Browne won the class.
"It was a really great run," said team representative Chris Hillebrandt. "Last year we blew a motor 12 hours in after winning in 2011. We had some mixed emotions coming in this year. We raced our race and we won it again. We really did not have a lot of issues. We had some small issue with our dash giving us a funny fuel reading. It would give us a number than go out. Sometimes we had to wait until it coughed to come in an fuel the car. The drivers and team did a great job."

1st Place  E3  No. 23  RJ Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata

2nd Place  E3  No. 36  Spare Parts Racing 2 - Mazda MX-5 Miata

3rd Place  E3  No. 60  A+ Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata
SlideShow LINK >>>

SlideShow LINK >>>
The No. 24 Rotek Racing Audi TT RS won the eleventh running of the United States Air Force (USAF) 25 Hours of Thunderhill today.  Following the Rotek Audi to fill out the overall podium was the No.83 Barrett Racing Porsche GT3 Cup in second and the No. 38 Radical West Radical in third. Image Credit: NASA

 Race Statistics:
705 laps covered by leader (laps x 2.86-track miles = 1,819 total racing miles covered)
13 caution periods
57 cars started, 40 finished
Fast lap of the race was set by Al Unser Jr. in the No. 52 JFC Racing Wolf, time of 1:37.789

Final and hourly timing reports are posted at

* Great mix of cars including Audi R8 LMS, Audi TT RS, Norma Sports Racer, Seat Leon, Lexus IS300, Mazda 6 Diesel, Miata MX-5 and RX-8, Acura ILX, Honda Civic, Honda CR-Z, Factory Five Racing, Chevrolet Silverado, Porsche 997, etc.
* Six classes of race cars E0, E1, E2, E3, ES, ESR
* 60+ entries in E0 7, E1 10, E2 7, E3 11, ES 17, ESR 9; 16 Mazda entries, 12 BMW, 4 Porsche, 4 Honda, 4 Acura

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Visual And Design Explosion That Is The LA Auto Show

Downtown Los Angeles skyline at night and in black and white as a graphic backdrop in the KIA booth. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

The Visual And Design Explosion That Is The LA Auto Show

Another year is in the books and it is time to kick off the 2014 automobile show season with the event that starts the debut and sales cycle all over again ... the Motor Press Guild hosted Press Days for the LA Auto Show.

This edition has a few design and booth highlights of note that include the bringing forward of a radically artful concept body design to the streets (if this ever happens, it is usually toned way down), a second look at mid-century luxury design in a hard top two-door (that had a dealer from Valencia, California chanting to the designers at the booth to "JUST BUILD IT"), a full 3-D car sculpture not intended to advance automobile design on the road but on the HD screen of a game console, and lastly, an artful booth presentation that featured two string instrument performers (violin and cello) playing classic rock-n-roll hits from Guns and Roses to the Doors.

There's little doubt that the 2015 BMW i8 is one of the most radical and groundbreaking performance cars this industry has seen in a long time. From its unique carbon-intensive construction to its 1.5-liter, three-cylinder and electric motor plug-in powertrain to its concept-car originated appearance (below in 2009), the flagbearer for BMW's new i venture challenges the very notion of what it takes to be a supercar. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)
BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept introduced during the 2009 LA Auto Show. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

BMW introduced a radical concept body design at the LA Auto Show a couple of years ago that became a bit of a signature, but no one thought this sculpted approach would ever see the pavement of the stree of the light of the sun until the announcement of the new BMW iDrive.

Elmiraj advances the Cadillac philosophy of provocative modern design and engaging rear-wheel drive performance, with a 4.5-liter twin turbocharged V8 delivering an estimated 500 hp. The engine takes the baseline technology from the Cadillac Twin Turbo V6 and expands it to the classic performance format of a V8 engine. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Cadillac has been flirting with design in a different direction - away from the radical arch around a wheel element - to the simplicity of American mid-century modern inspired design (first shown a couple of years ago with the Ciel Concept, pronounced “C-L,” the French word for sky, a four-seat convertible) that is seeing a strong revival in homes, furniture, and now ... cars.

Interior Design Manager, Gael Buzyn as he poses for photos while sitting in a cockpit designed with special egress features for the passenger who will ride in the back seat ... both bucket seats on each side move to aid in the human motion of entering and exiting the Elmiraj rear cabin. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

A modern update to the classic format of a two-door grand coupe, Elmiraj Concept provides a look inside the Cadillac Studio/North Hollywood to see how the designers envision performance and luxury for the next generation of luxury drivers. The long dash-to-axle front profile, a Cadillac signature, gives the coupe a performance-oriented form. The long wheelbase and clean bodyside characterizes the car’s spacious dimensions and elevated status.

An interesting observation at the stand was that this Elmiraj Concept display was directly across from the Bentley booth with all of their well-over $100,000 to $300,000-plus cars and most everyone who stopped to take in the view, had their backs toward the Bentley display.

Mercedes-Benz designers came up with the AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept for a starring role in the PlayStation 3 racing game, Gran Turismo 6. But like Pinocchio, the folkloric wooden toy that came to life, the Vision Concept, or something like it, may sooner rather than later become a real-life model in the Mercedes lineup. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Mercedes-Benz design in Sunnyvale, California used the occasion of the LA Auto Show to dazzle attendees with a full scale creation of a digital car, AMG Vision GT Concept, that will be featured as a supercar in the Gran Turismo 6 video game.

Click here for Mercedes-Benz produced YouTube video. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

The really tragic thing, other than the obvious time and expense put forward on this artful motor culture display for just the promotion of a video game, this particular AMG Vision GT Concept will never see the light of day or a street ... it is not a car.

"This is the future of Mercedes-Benz design," Gorden Wagener, vice president for design at Daimler, said as he introduced the car at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where Motor Press Guild hosted Press Days began on Wednesday, simultaneous with its unveiling at the Tokyo motor show. "This car, or elements of it, will make its way into production."

KIA booth music before the presentation was aggressively mood setting. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

The slideshow of images showing California icons was inspiring - Griffith Observatory image as it appeared in the KIA tradeshow stand. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

KIA used its stage to introduce the world to its new full sized K900 four-door sedan. In the lead up to the presentation, however, the Press Days attendees were treated to a rather sublime concert of very hard rock songs with the twist of being performed with the delicate tones delivered through a violin and a cello accompanied by a slideshow of iconic images of California (from the Golden Gate Bridge to Griffith Observatory) that was projected through a very wide landscape format jumbo-tron with the image first projected in Black & White then fading into a Full Color version.

The Korean automaker unveiled the all-new K900, a large sedan that will offer the space and trappings of German land yachts, while undercutting their prices by tens of thousands of dollars.

"This is our boldest statement yet," said Tom Loveless, executive vice president of sales for Kia. "It's a true flagship sedan that symbolizes how far we've come, and we believe it will make you question everything you thought you knew about Kia."

Introduction of Executive Vice President of Sales for KIA - Tom Loveless. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Of course, there was more ... much, much, more ... but all one has to do to get a look and feel of the beginning of the automobile tradeshow season is just attend the LA Auto Show which runs from November 22 - December 1, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown LA!

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, October 24, 2013

IndyCar Driver Justin Wilson Is Released To Recover From Home

Justin Wilson in the pits. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Justin Wilson being attended to out on Turn 2 at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2013)

IndyCar Driver Justin Wilson Is Released To Recover From Home

IndyCar pilot Justin Wilson returned home to Colorado this week to begin his recovery process after suffering injuries in a lap 111 accident in the 2013 IndyCar season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California last weekend.

Wilson suffered a pulmonary contusion as well as three fractures to his pelvis from the impact, which saw the front of a competitor’s car make lateral (t-bone) contact with the right side of Wilson’s DW12. The recovery process will require several weeks of inactivity for Wilson.

The order to keep off his feet is a big adjustment for Wilson, who in addition to his duties as a doting dad to his two young daughters, stays extremely active with a comprehensive training program that integrates long-distance cycling, mountain biking, and weight training.

“They said it will be six weeks before I can put weight on my right side,” said Wilson, who has already become adroit with his new crutches he will use to get around. “I am hoping for a lot less (time) of course, but you have to do what they say. It will be hard because I am already thinking about getting back in the car and training to be ready for that, but it will just take some time.”

Wilson has a recent precedent for this process after suffering a back injury in practice at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August, 2011. But after sitting out the final six races of the IndyCar season, Wilson returned to 2012 race duty in fine form, winning in his first race back with a breakthrough victory for Michael Shank Racing in the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona.

While obeying doctors orders and keeping off his feet will be key to his healing, the affable Briton has already also benefited from an outpouring of support from a wide range of sources.

“It has been amazing, several of the drivers came and visited me in the hospital and everyone has called, tweeted, or texted me just saying ‘get well fast’.  It has been a little overwhelming,” said Wilson. “I’d like to respond to everyone, but I think it would be impossible!  I am grateful for the support, and it is  really encouraging for me.”

The primary partner on Wilson’s No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda-powered machine was the Boy Scouts of America, and the group was another outlet of support as the national council organized a section of the website for Scouts from across the country to wish Wilson a speedy recovery  (

... notes from The EDJE

Post MAVTv 500 IndyCar Winning Statements, Miscues, And Movements

IndyCar Series Race Director, Beaux Barfield waves to Scott Dixon to begin his qualification run which had his car be placed in P7, first car in Row 3 in a 3-wide rolling start. Target Chip Ganassi Racing decided to change the engine to give Scott's car a fresh machine for the 500 mile race which carries a 10 spot penalty. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Post MAVTv 500 IndyCar Winning Statements, Miscues, And Movements

You know, in this life, it is easy to be critical after the fact. The MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series season finale held at Auto Club Speedway, upon review, had its share of miscues and confusing statements ... probably way too many to mention in one posting but here are a couple of highlights.

The first one was a statement made by IndyCar's only team owner, driver, and first champion of the MAVTv 500 (2012) Ed Carpenter - No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, after the MAVTv 500 race last year which provided a key motivation to this year's MAVTv 500 champion, Will Power - No. 12 Verizon/Penske Racing Chevrolet.

Here, Will Power informs owner/driver Ed Carpenter of the level of motivation he provided with his ill thought out assertion. It was the kind of assertion that Dixon and his team were making against Team Penske at Sonoma when the right-rear pitman was accused of unprofessional tactics. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Will Power pumps his fist with excitement as Ed Carpenter begins to understand the positive nature of the motivation he was able to create with his off-the-cuff-comment about Power crashing out after only a little over 50 laps of the 2012 MAVTv 500. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

This excerpted and edited from Auto Racing Daily -

Q - I heard you mention on television that you had a little extra incentive today to want to win this, make a point of some sort.

WILL POWER:  The incentive?  The incentive was, Ed Carpenter said that Will Power did exactly what everyone expected him to do at the last race last year. I thought that was just such motivation for me to beat him and win at this track and just be good at ovals. I went about it. I thought I’m going to beat Ed. Ed, I really respect him. A very good, fast, clean oval racer. Always good to race. I don’t dislike him, but I told him, I said, Man, your comment last year gave me a lot of motivation. It’s true.

So, yes, that’s right. I like Ed. He’s very good. He’s quick. But that comment definitely got to me in a good way.

[Reference Here]

Second, can we say that 'The Captain' has called better races for Helio Castroneves? Helio Castroneves - No. 3 Auto Club of America/Penske Racing Chevrolet, had set himself up to win. He was mentally prepared, in qualifications he secured the P2 position between Pole winner Will Power and single race team-mate P3 A.J. Allmendinger leaving Scott Dixon further down in the field at P7 with an engine change for both Scott and Helio, a 10 spot penalty was assessed. (Castroneves P12 / Dixon P17).

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves leads four-time ChampCar series season champion Sebastien Bourdais into Turn 2 during the MAVTv 500 IndyCar season finale at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2013)

By Lap 5 Helio was running in the top five where he remained for the  most of the race - even leading several times. Then on Lap 210 a YELLOW Flag flew due to Alex Tagliani - No. 10 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, spinning off of Turn 2 which brought a call over the radio to Helio from Roger Penske to PIT. On Lap 212, Helio Castroneves gives up his position in the field as he enters the pits when they were still classified as closed.

Helio found himself battling for the lead again with Charlie Kimball - No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, where Helio crowded Charlie running for the lead and damaged the front wing on his No. 3 DW12. On Lap 226 Helio Castroneves replaced his nosecone and was never able to recapture his position in the field finishing one position behind P5 Scott Dixon - No. 9 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

In a post MAVTv 500 season championship press conference, Scott Dixon stated that his car was a 7th or 8th fastest car in the field at best. Castroneves is left as Power was left the previous three years with a 'should'a, could'a, would'a ending to a strong season.

This infographic found in the Media Room, where all of the post event press conferences take place, pretty much highlights the obvious ... made even more obvious by the win in the 2013 MAVTv 500 ... Target Chip Ganassi Racing is the team to beat in IndyCar. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Judging by the achievement of season championships - Scott Dixon's being the 10th since 1996, we need to be giving a higher military title to Chip Ganassi ... like 'The Colonel, Chip' or 'The General, Ganassi' because Penske Racing's 5 season championships has to take a back seat to this level of success. It is pretty funny to listen to Target Chip Ganassi's brain trust of Mike Hull and Chip Ganassi talk during the post MAVTv 500 season championship press conference and pay homage to Penske Racing as the best team in present day IndyCar. Let's be clear ... Target Chip Ganassi Racing is the best team in present day IndyCar based solely on performance.

Team Owner and Managing Director Chip Ganassi and Mike Hull revel in the 'hat danc' during victory lane celebrations at Auto Club Speedway. 'Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Lastly, one has to take issue with a statement made by Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Managing Director, Mike Hull about choosing the Honda engine for their DW12 package and the fact that for 2014, the team has chosen to take a different direction.

Scott Dixon's car was developing heat and was having trouble getting rid of this problem which thretened to end Scott's run to capture his third championship in ten years (2003, 2008, and 2013). On Lap 299 Dixon came into the pits and stayed a little extra time to clear the radiators of debris. The engine ran hot the balance of the race.

MAVTv 500 Post Race Press Conference - Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Managing Director, Mike Hull | Owner Chip Ganassi Audio File HERE >>>

Mike Hull was asked about how this effected their race, Hull stated (starting at 1:14 of the above linked audio file), "I have to say, as hot as the engine got, Honda did what we wanted them to do what they wanted to do ... and that was to build an engine that didn't break under severe conditions" ... which all begs the question asked later to Chip Ganassi by Motor Press Guild and LMR Marketing Communications' Larry Mason on why the jump to Chevrolet next year? Chip's answer leaves one to wonder if there is something more than, "It was a business decision ...", due to the number of season championships (since 1996 - 9 Honda-powered/1 Toyota-powered) the team was able to earn with the Honda engine partnership.

Hat's off to New Zealander Scott Dixon on his third, very well earned, IndyCar Series season championship and the fact this earned honor now sits with the winningest-active driver in the series with 33 wins, and that he remains the longest tenured driver in the Target Chip Ganassi stable since joining the team mid-way through the 2002 CART season.

One additionally wonders if the Chevrolet way (as opposed to the Japanese way) will be compatible with both TCGR and Scott Dixon ... or if the door is now open for Andretti Autosport to outlast and out race the rest of the field with their new Honda-powered - build an engine that didn't break under severe conditions - Dallara DW12s.

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rand Luxury Review At Petersen Automotive Museum - An Automotive Lifestyle POV

Maserati Beverly HIlls unveiling of the Maserati Ghibli - The pleasure and thrill of pure luxury can now be enjoyed every day: the new Maserati Ghibli is a unique combination of style, sporty handling and comfort, designed to make driving a special car an everyday sensation. When designing this car, Maserati drew on all its experience in the manufacturing of GT cars of unmistakable class and top-class performance; thrilling to drive yet comfortable. The result is a unique, eye-catching, and extraordinary sedan. Image Credit: Randy Berg - Special Car Store (2013)

Rand Luxury Review At Petersen Automotive Museum - An Automotive Lifestyle POV
By James Groth, Miles Ahead Communications for The Motorsports-Report - Los Angeles October 23, 2013

On a mid-week evening Rand Luxury drew out a diverse group of hip upscale people of means with a common interest in owning the worlds top brands, first. First may be the operative term here since when you have already achieved wealth, there’s nothing like being “first on the block” with what’s new.

RAND’s Review was a showcase of the absolute latest in electronics, automotive and toys. These were complemented by jewelry from Chan Luu and Silvanna K made from 100% recycled metals and natural minerals. How Green of Silvanna K to combine fashion and conservation. Brand Ambassadors were on hand to demonstrate reference-level magnetic headphones by Audeze, both open and closed-back models for the audiophiles in the crowd or condo dwellers. Guests enjoyed with the latest releases from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley and perhaps a fine cigar from Elite Mobil Cigars.

Jewelry  was a big draw for the ladies. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Guest Beth Ingersoll at the Silvanna K Desings display. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars showcased their finest wines, fashioned to express classic elegance, structure, and age ability to reflect the place in which they are grown, Napa, California. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

I came into one of the rooms with a gentlemen in coat and tie behind the wheel of the race car simulator set up for Le Mans and was genuinely impressed with his driving. He was handling this track like Le Mans winner Derek Bell. I later met him and learned he is the owner of Allen Berg Racing Schools. Allen had his open wheel racer on display and was delighted to inform us of its outstanding capabilities and 7 to1 power to weight ratio. A day behind the wheel of these cars is sure to thrill while sharping ones driving skills.

Allen Berg at the wheel of a Virtual GT simulator. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Allen Berg standing next to his Allen Berg Racing School w Racecar display. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

However, the sharpest thing on display came from Shun Cutlery. Shun knives are made in Seki, one of Japan’s traditional samurai sword making cities that goes back 700 years. They are crafted using the most advanced materials such as powered steel and take more than 100 handcrafted steps to create. In addition the striking beauty they are uniquely functional with a surface texture that allows food to release from the blade and reduce cutting drag. Whether you’re a serious chef or someone that desires to own the finest it would be hard to fine a more finely crafted product. I would compare their wave like design to a modern sculpture worthy of display in a gallery or galley.

Shun Cutlery Reserve Series knives on display. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

For purpose of this article the main feature was a chance to see the Maserati Ghibli before the LA Car Show in mid November. Maserati has revived the Ghibli name for a sedan this time. The Ghilbi is named after of a hot desert wind in Africa and was used for their exotic sports car prior. Few if any of us got a complete photo of the car since once Maserati of Beverly Hills unveiled it was mobbed: the rest of the evening the crowd took turns posing in front to this exquisite beauty.ew

The Luxury Review was honored to host the West Coast reveal and showcase of the 2014 Maserati Ghibli, courtesy of Ferrari Maserati of Beverly Hills. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Lady being entertained by Matthew Jensen, Director Miracle Mile Advisors. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

The new Ghilibi does not disappoint, offering fashionable styling with a sense of flare, a hallmark of Italian designers. I appreciated that the grill is not as pronounced as the Grand Sport Coupe. Performance comes from a V6 this time with 404 horsepower and optional all-wheel drive. Add an interior that matches the finest furniture and you have all any gentlemen or lady could require for US motoring and certain to turn heads upon arrival.

Prince Rudolf Kniase Melikoff and MIss Toni Nam Xiong ... a friend who I helped purchase the last Maserati Spyder. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Gibli’s key feature though is its base price in the $70,000’s. This car is serious competition for all performance sedans in their segment. What ever your preference has been in this segment the Ghilbi will cause most to revaluate their choice next buying cycle. I see pricing a Maserati in the $70K’s as a smart marketing move to get people to make a change from their predictable choices.

To put this strategy in perspective Bentley did this brilliantly in 2005 when they introduced the Continental GT at $160,000. At that time I was hired to set up a road course for first test-drive reports of the GT on the west coast and to work with journalist doing the testing. Later I was one of the test drivers putting break in miles on a GT from Huston to Scottsdale and spokesperson and as on the stand Bentley for the LA Auto Show.

All during this time I queried everyone one what they thought the price should be for the GT. Most people considering the car for purchase and the journalist expected a price around the Aston Martin Vanquish of $260,000 and perhaps as high as $275,000 and that is where I pegged it too. We were all astounded to see it come to market at $160,000.

Had Bentley priced the GT in the higher range few would have questioned it given the prestige and quality of the Continental GT. I felt at that this move was structured to separate Bentley from its previously association with Rolls Royce. This was an outstanding strategy since the previous two years Bentley had sold a total of 400 and 200 cars in the US. While working the press stand at the LA show the orders for the GT were already at 3,000 and no GT’s were even on the street yet.

The Continental GT was a major hit it for all the right reasons perhaps the biggest being pricing that allowed it to be on consideration list for most high end performance buyers. To me this is exactly what Maserati is hoping to do, up the volume and more importantly assure the continued long-term success of the brand. I content that this strategy will be effective again and the Ghilbi which could have listed higher will be a success and lift up Maserati sales and prestige.

In full disclosure I am rooting Maserati, having had three years as Advertising and PR Mgr. when Qvale was US Importer. This was the era of the sensational and stunning mid-engine five-liter V8 Bora that followed the original Ghibili. As great a package as the Bora was I found the Maserati Kamsin with same 4.9 liter engine mounted up front and outrageous styling to be perhaps the most unique performance car of the era. This lasting impression also came from the easy shifting and clutch and steering provide by its Citroen hydraulics.

Marina Del Rey Realtor Beth Ingersoll arriving at the Petersen Museum. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

The setting was the Petersen Automotive Museum, home to one of the world finest collections of iconic and historical automobiles and memorabilia. The Petersen is an event in its own right that is open to the public and available for rent. Two of the things that make the Petersen unique are that the displays and cars change regularly and special events introduce the new displays, giving reason for multiple visits per year.

The Checkered Flag 200 is the serious group of collectors and aficionados that support the museum and host a variety of events. Do check out the Petersen site for information on them and various levels of sponsorship to fit your needs. I was privileged to have attended numerous exclusive and unique events during a six-year membership and can attest to member collections and garages as world class.

When 'Fins' Were a design 'In' ... on almost everything. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

In the 1950's even the boats had fins. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

I also urge you to consider the Petersen for corporate events. I found this museum to be ideal for creating a luxury event to introduce Dunhill’s Jaguar D-type watch and for company Christmas parties. In its early years the Petersen gained additional notoriety when I created and produced the first new car model introduction with live streaming video on the World Wide Web. This new car model launch was broadcasted live from the Petersen Automotive Museum, by the Auto Channel to sixty countries in October 1996 for the launch of the Jaguar XK8 for Hornburg Jaguar. Since then the facility has continued to grow and improve yearly but does need public support to thrive.

Rock group ZZ Top's 'Cadzilla' at the Petersen entrance with Writer/photographer James Groth. Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2013)

Maserati's CEO Harald Wester forecasts 22,00 to 25,000 for the full first-year Ghibli sales.

Base price of 2014 Maserati Ghilbli $65,000
3.0-liter V6, 345 hp & 369-lb-ft

Ghibli S Q4 (est) $75,000

3.0-liter, 404-hp, 404-lb-ft twin turbocharged V6
AWD, eight speed automatic.
Curb weight 4, 135 lb
0-62 4.8 sec (mfr)
Fuel Economy (EPA)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Scott Dixon Post 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Season Interview

IZOD IndyCar Series race car driver, and three-time champion, Scott Dixon shares his good emotions about capturing the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the MAVTv 500 Auto Club Speedway's press conference. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Scott Dixon Post 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Season Interview

33 year old Scott Ronald Dixon, is a New Zealand race car driver who became the most successful all-time driver in the Indy Racing League (IRL) championship in the United States when he won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in August 2009. This took his total to 20 wins.

Competing for Chip Ganassi Racing since joining IndyCar, Dixon has won the championship three times, in 2003, 2008, and just this weekend in the MAVTv 500 at Auto Club Speedway, and he won the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in 2008 from pole position.

Among notable awards won by Dixon are the Jim Clark Trophy (1999, 2001, 2004) and the Bruce McLaren Trophy (2003, 2008). In 2012 he was appointed Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

IndyCar Series Race Director, Beaux Barfield, waves Scott Dixon out to take his qualification run for the MAVTv 500 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Scott, you are with Edmund Jenks - welcome to Motorsports Unplugged and Race Talk Radio.

1) At the Auto Club Speedway's post race press conference, it was pointed out that the French sports publication L'Equipe wrote that your latest accomplishment would have your legacy move ahead of the likes of Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren as New Zealand's most successful driver in terms of annual titles. I heard your response to L'Equipe's assertion --- Now that you have had time to digest this assertion for about 36 hours, what do you make of this hearlding that you are New Zealand's most successful race car driver?

2) It was reported that Max Papis put out a 'Tweet' (a 140 character communication message on Twitter) ... Watching yesterday @IndyCar race if they don't change something on those Ovals is just a matter of time before one of my friends will die!! Max seems to be concerned about how long it will be when a driver might pass away due to injuries with the rules package used at a superspeedway like Auto Club Speedway. Do you think open-wheel racing is safe enough running 3-wide at over 200mph?

Scott Dixon takes his #9 Honda-powered Dallara DW12 race car out under a full moon practice run at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

3) This 2013 championship is the first one earned within the merged and integrated field of drivers and racing venues from ChampCar - with the variety of racing venues presented in the present day IndyCar series, which type of track do you enjoy the best? You have shown accomplishment on all types.

4) In the not so distant past, it was obvious who the top 2 or 3 contenders would be for the title by the season's halfway point, but this year a driver would emerge and then have issues - was this part of the learning curve of year two with the new DW12 Dallara car and engine combos?

5) Speaking of engine combinations - how involved with the motor engineers do you become - what is your habit? Working with Japanese racing engineers, first at Toyota, then at Honda for these last dozen or so years ... how do you anticipate working with the engineers at Chevrolet will go - any differences?

6) There has been a lot of background discussion on the introduction of a road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the timing of the race in the schedule - Do you care if the Indy road course is raced in the same month - the Month of May - as the Indy 500? Does it matter?

A beaming team owner, Chip Ganassi (right) discusses the meaning of being competitive with the support of Target Chip Ganassi Racing's managing director, Mike Hull. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

7) For 2014 - What do you think of the new Tudor road racing series? I assume you'll be driving in it ... any idea as to which car Ganassi Racing will go with? The Daytona Prototypes or the ALMS style P2 cars?

8) Do you have an opinion on the Indy Lights series and the troubles they're going through?

9) The last time we talked, just before your going to Valencia to receive some instruction from Olympian Skeet Shooter, Kim Rhodes, we discussed the options for the community service that was going to be asked of you as a driver for the penalty assessed post Baltimore for comments made out of frustration. Now that the season is over and are now a three-time IndyCar champion, do you expect to be awarded a modification taking in the time served over the next few months due to the additional promotional appearances based on this 2013 IndyCar Championship accomplishment?

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, October 18, 2013

Scott Dixon - MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call

IZOD IndyCar Series season points leader (by 25 points over Helio Castroneves) Scott Dixon as he gets instruction from Olympian Kim Rhodes on the finer points of shotgun skeet shooting. Image Credit Albert Wong (2013)

Scott Dixon - MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call

The 2013 season comes down to one race between two drivers for all of the marbles. Only 25 points separate Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon from the driver who held the points lead the longest stint during the season, three-time Indy 500 winner Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves.

Scott agreed to sit down and participate in a pre-finale conference call with IndyCar's Arni Sribhen and a few writers who have been following the IZOD IndyCar Series for 2013. The following call lasts about 30 minutes.

Scott Dixon - MAVTv 500 Pre-Race IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call >>>

Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves share a warm handshake just as the  IZOD IndyCar Series pre-race MAVTv 500 media luncheon press conference ends at LA Live's The Conga Room.
Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Practice and qualifications are Oct. 18. Real-time Timing & Scoring augmented by the IMS Radio Network broadcast is available on and the INDYCAR 13 app for all sessions and the race.

The full schedule (all times Eastern):

Oct. 18 -- 1:45-3:15 p.m. practice
               5:15 p.m. qualifications (7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network)
               9:05-9:35 p.m. practice

Oct. 19 -- 8 p.m. MAVTV 500 on NBC Sports Network

Oct. 20 -- 8:30 p.m. INDYCAR Championship Celebration streamed live on and INDYCAR 13 app.

... notes from The EDJE

Helio Castroneves - MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call

IZOD IndyCar Series Helio Castroneves as he gives a post testing interview for the gathered media. 
Image Credit Albert Wong(2013)

Helio Castroneves - MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call

The 2013 season comes down to one race between two drivers for all of the marbles. Only 25 points separate Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon from the driver who held the points lead the longest stint during the season, three-time Indy 500 winner Penske Racing's HelioCastroneves.

Helio agreed to sit down and participatein a pre-finale conference call with IndyCar's Arni Sribhen and a fewwriters who have been following the IZOD IndyCar Series for 2013. Thefollowing call lasts about 30 minutes.

Helio Castroneves - MAVTv 500 Pre-Race IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call >>>

Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves share a warm handshake just as the  IZOD IndyCar Series pre-race MAVTv 500 media luncheon press conference ends at LA Live's The Conga Room. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Practice and qualifications are Oct. 18. Real-time Timing &Scoring augmented by the IMS Radio Network broadcast is available and the INDYCAR 13 app for all sessions and the race.

The full schedule (all times Eastern):

Oct. 18 -- 1:45-3:15 p.m. practice
               5:15 p.m. qualifications (7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network)

               9:05-9:35 p.m. practice

Oct. 19 -- 8 p.m. MAVTV 500 on NBC Sports Network

Oct. 20 -- 8:30 p.m. INDYCAR Championship Celebration streamed live on and INDYCAR 13 app.

... notes from The EDJE