Lamborghini has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of its iconic Espada model, taking a 1976 example owned by the Lamborghini Museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese on a tour to London. First stop for the Series III, chassis #9090 Espada was the historic headquarters of the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in Pall Mall, founded in 1897 and …
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Hard to believe it’s been nearly 20 years since the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) ran exciting, wheel to wheel stock car races on short tracks around Indiana. This series was distinct from and should not be confused with today’s southeastern CARS series that descended from the old Hooters ProCup series, blogs Stephen Cox.
The original CARS series was Indiana-based, founded by former ARCA driver Morris Coffman. The concept was built around a spec stock car chassis powered by 305 cubic inch Chevrolet small block engines with two-barrel carburetors that produced about 335 horsepower. The hard compound tires were grooved to limit grip. A completed ready to race car was available for about $20,000, while kits could be purchased for half that price and assembled by the race teams.
The result was a fun, affordable mid-level touring series that frequented premier Midwestern short tracks including Indianapolis Raceway Park (now Lucas Oil Raceway), Winchester Speedway and Ileana Speedway. The crowds were good. The racecars were fun to drive. They had enough power to slide through the turns but not so much grip that engine prices soared into the stratosphere. For a while – a very short while – CARS provided an excellent platform to learn the craft of stock car racing.
I competed in the series from early 1999 until August 2000. My record was marginal, winning two of the series’ smaller events, sitting on the pole at Winchester and finishing sixth in the season points championship. But the competition sharpened my driving skills and introduced me to some great people who remain friends nearly two decades later.
On September 19, 1999, a bright and cool Sunday afternoon, we put on a pretty good show for Winchester Speedway’s race fans. The top five cars broke away from the field and ran nose-to-tail and sometimes side-by-side on Winchester’s extreme, 32-degree banking for most of the 20-lap feature. My father and spotter, Nelson, coached me up to fourth place late in the event. The whirlwind speeds of Winchester’s high groove took your breath away, especially when running in a two or three-wide pack of five cars, all-vying for a win before a huge crowd at a historic track. I finished fourth in one of the best short track races of the year.
Series front-runners included many outstanding drivers who had already proven themselves winners at other levels of racing. Mark Fesmire could do no wrong in the 1999 season and left us all in the dust on his way to the first CARS championship title. Indiana short track legend Eddie Van Meter won in front of 25,000 fans at Indianapolis in May 2000. Jeff Cannon was so fast he couldn’t keep tires under his car. Bob Dumke, Tim Green, Wes Bullock, Tim Wallen and other fine drivers competed in my era with many more joining after I departed for the Hooters Pro Cup Series in late 2000.
Jerome Branscum, who won the 2003 CARS championship title and later purchased the series, said, “It was a series that we could get into for ten grand and get a nice looking car and we could go racing. I was 44 years old and had never driven a racecar before. It was a real thrill for me. It was the excitement of getting to go racing every week, and on a budget.”
Going through multiple ownership changes, the series was active as late as 2012 although it struggled to draw entries. It eventually faded away, forgotten by all but a handful of former competitors. The Championship Auto Racing Series existed in the era immediately preceding the Internet, so not a trace of its history can be found online. It existed in the earliest era of digital photography, so traditional 35mm photos are scarce and the few available digital pictures are of poor quality. As far as I can tell all records of its races and indeed, the very existence of the series, have been lost.
“I would like it to be remembered like it was in the early years,” Branscum recalled, “when you could go racing and it wouldn’t cost you a fortune. You could meet friendly people, race hard and have fun.”
Stephen Cox: Driver, FIA EGT Championship & Super Cup Stock Car Series, CEO, Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN.
These lightweight multi-carb, four-cam and even Hemi engines were being developed for future production engine research and, in some cases racing projects.
Between 1969 and 1970, Oldsmobile Engineering was responsible for creating powerful ultra-efficient 350 to 455 cubic-inch V-8 engines rated up to 700 horsepower! Some were naturally aspirated and fitted with single Quadrajet four-barrel or Weber carburetors; others were fuel-injected and turbocharged. Most had aluminum blocks and heads. It was hard to imagine that these engines were anything other than veiled attempts at building pure racing engines, but they actually were. Oldsmobile engineering used these engines as prototypes for developing lighter, more fuel-efficient and “cleaner” production engines.
Olds engineers were responsible for the radical OW-43, above, a racing-only, four-cam 455 tested with four Weber carburetors and fuel injection with three-inch ram stacks. The OW-43 was developed at the same time Chevrolet Engineering was working on the ZL1 for Corvette and Camaro applications and Can-Am racing. The OW-43 was tested in a Can-Am racecar, but never used in competition.
Based on the same bore-stroke configuration of a production 455, the OW-43 had heads and block with steel cylinder liners cast from Reynolds 356-T-6 heat-treated aluminum. With a redline of just under 8,500 rpm, it produced 600 horsepower at 6,000 rpm with Webers and 700 horsepower at 6,800 rpm with Lucas direct-port fuel-injection. The DOHC prototype had Forged-True 12.20-to-1 pistons, Carillo billet steel rods and a forged steel crank. It weighed 50 pounds less than a production cast-iron 455.
The mildest of the group was an all-aluminum 350 small-block, displacing 389 cubic inches and utilizing dual-throat Weber 48IDA carburetors, above, right. The alloy 389-inch engine ended up in a Cutlass that was driven to the C/Production record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1968. A friend and editor at Hot Rod, Lee Kelley, drove a factory-supplied Cutlass 169.133 mph to set the record. Apparently during impound, SCTA officials never detected that the engine was an all-aluminum prototype.The engine in Lee Kelley’s record-setter was a one-off, rated at close to 500 horsepower and built in Lansing by Dave Maurer, a special projects engineer. At Bonneville, the Cutlass was crewed by Maurer along with racing legends, Ak Miller, Jack Lufkin and Ed Iskenderian.
One of the most interesting engines was the 455-inch W-43 Hemi. There were cast-iron and aluminum iterations with four-valve, Hemi-chamber heads. The W-43 engine was designed to be easily converted to chain or gear-driven overhead camshafts. Fitted with a single Quadrajet, it produced in excess of 500 horsepower at 6,500 rpm. The aluminum version weighed 75 pounds less than the then current production 455 engine. This engine found its way into Mule cars tested at the Milford Proving Ground.
Oldsmobile engines displacing 389 to 455 cubic inches had powered Can-Am Series cars, like Bob McKee-built Cro-Sal racers in 1967. The highest output Can-Am Olds was an all-aluminum, single-cam 455 with injection and twin turbochargers. It generated 659 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 554 pound-feet of torque at 6,200 rpm.
This story is from DAY ONE, An Automotive Journalist’s Muscle-Car Memoir, covering domestic 1962-1974 high-performance vehicles, https://www.amazon.com/Day-One-Automotive-Journalists-Muscle-Car/dp/0760352364/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493561421&sr=1-1&keywords=Day+One+by+Martyn+L.+Schorr
DBZ Centenary Collection showcases DB4 GT Zagato Continuation and DBS GT Zagato, with production limited to 19 pairs. None sold separately.In 2019, legendary Italian design house Zagato celebrates its centenary. For 58 of those hundred years, Aston Martin and Zagato have enjoyed a remarkable creative partnership. One in which these two iconic brands have created some of the world’s most desirable and stimulating cars, from the first DB4 GT Zagato to the latest Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake.
To commemorate this landmark year, Aston Martin and Zagato are continuing their historic partnership with a truly unique collaboration: The remarkable DBZ Centenary Collection pays tribute to an icon of the past and creates a future classic.
Andy Palmer, Aston Martin President and Group CEO, added: “The partnership between Aston Martin and Zagato is one of the most fruitful and enduring in the automotive world. With Zagato celebrating its centenary next year, what better way to celebrate this landmark – and the long-standing bond between our two great companies – than creating these 19 pairs of cars. As an engineer I would always say my favorite Aston Martin is the next one, but I have to say I’m struggling to think of a finer two-car garage than this!”
Andrea Zagato, head of the Milan-based design house, founded by his grandfather in 1919, continued: “Great Britain has always appreciated our work. In particular, I must say I’m honored and very proud that Aston Martin has chosen to celebrate our long-standing partnership with this unique DBZ Centenary Collection.”
With a build run strictly limited to just 19 pairs, this exceptional duo comprises a new, track-only DB4 GT Zagato Continuation and a new, road-legal DBS GT Zagato. The DB4 GT Zagato will be built at Aston Martin Works, Newport Pagnell – the original home of the DB4 – while the new DBS GT Zagato will be produced at Gaydon, Aston Martin’s global headquarters. Perfectly bookending Aston Martin and Zagato’s shared history, the DBZ Centenary Collection will be sure to take their place among the most coveted cars in the world.
Built to race against the might of Ferrari in the 1960s, the DB4 GT Zagato was a thoroughbred machine. Evolved for the rigors of motor racing and blessed with breath taking beauty, just 19 were built. Drawing on Aston Martin Works’ unrivalled knowledge and expertise, DB4 GT Zagato Continuations will be completely authentic and meticulously crafted cars that are true to original Zagato-bodied DB4 GTs produced by Aston Martin and Zagato in 1960.
Originally built as an evolution of the short-chassis DB4 GT, the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation follows the same recipe, with thin-gauge aluminum body panels, dressing a lightweight tubular frame. To improve the accuracy and consistency of the panels, the continuation car’s bodywork uses state-of-the-art digital scanning technology, before being hand-finished. Beneath the bonnet sits a version of the celebrated Tadek Marek-designed straight-six cylinder engine with two spark plugs per cylinder, transmitting 380 horsepower to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential, for an authentic and unforgettable driving experience.
Paul Spires, Managing Director at Aston Martin Works, said of the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation: “It has been my pleasure and privilege to oversee many exceptional projects here at Aston Martin Works, but creating nineteen DB4 GT Zagato Continuations as one half of the DBZ Centenary Collection is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We will bring all our hand-craftsmanship and expertise to bear in building these 19 Continuation cars, sympathetically incorporating the very latest engineering advancements and performance enhancements, but remaining true to the purity and authenticity of the original design.”
The second half of the DBZ Centenary Collection is the DBS GT Zagato, which takes Aston Martin’s most potent series production car – the brand new DBS Superleggera – as the starting point for Aston Martin and Zagato’s latest and most exclusive offering. Created to embody the next evolution in Aston Martin Zagato design language, the exterior of the car will be characterized by a new proportion featuring a fresh interpretation of the iconic double-bubble roof. Together with a striking front grille treatment and a dramatically truncated tail the DBS GT Zagato will present an amplified physique and an unmistakable presence that combines classic Zagato hallmarks with spectacular new signatures. Paired to the build run of 19 DB4 GT Zagato Continuations, the DBS GT Zagato will also be the rarest of all the modern-era Aston Martin Zagatos.
Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer, said: “Aston Martin and Zagato is a uniquely dynamic union. One that unites the former’s love of proportion and clean, simple forms with the latter’s daring and maverick eye. Never afraid to push the boundaries, the partnership has resulted in some fabulous cars including the quartet of Vanquish Zagatos – Coupe, Roadster, Speedster and Shooting Brake. However, Zagato’s centenary demanded something extra special, and the Zagato Collection is just that: One car that pays tribute to a timeless icon; another that writes a fearless new chapter for future generations to admire.”
The DBZ Century Collection will be priced at £6m (approximately $7.9m USD) plus taxes. First deliveries to customers will commence QTR 4 2019 for the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation and QTR 4 2020 for the DBS GT Zagato.
For the latest luxury-performance vehicles from Aston Martin, please visit https://global.astonmartin.com/en-us/
For more information about Zagato products and services, check out https://www.zagato.it/
The Loneliest Road isn’t quite as lonely as it once was, but it should still be on the bucket list of every automobile enthusiast, blogs racer, TV personality, Stephen Cox.
I drove more than 1,200 miles this summer on America’s “Loneliest Road,” US Route 50 West, as part of https://www.rallynorthamerica.com/ The event itself was remarkable, featuring incredible scenery, a family-like atmosphere with friendly people and a week of immersion in the automotive lifestyle. The rally started in Pueblo, Colorado and traveled west through Grand Junction to Salina, Utah, then continued across the Great Basin desert on Route 50 to Reno, Nevada.
Now hear this. When one thinks of North American deserts, they are generally regarded as inferior and/or somewhat less threatening than legendary whoppers like the African Sahara. Having now crossed Death Valley, the American Mojave, Sonora and Great Basin deserts as well as spending a full month in the Sahara a few years back, I can say from personal experience that the desert you will cross on US Route 50 West is on par with any in the world.
It is just as dry and hot. Just as beautiful and deadly. And, in many places almost as remote. If your radiator lets go along the 120-mile stretch between Mt. Callaghan and Fallon Station in Nevada, you’re going to have a rough day. It’s like a scene from an apocalypse movie without the popcorn!
On the bright side, Route 50 is a speed demon’s paradise. There’s not much traffic, which makes issuing citations a less profitable enterprise. And “confiscating” the cars of independent-minded motorists is challenging when the nearest tow truck is 100 miles away. I honestly don’t remember what the speed limit was because in over 1,000 miles of driving I never saw anyone abiding by it. The scenery is some of the most striking in all of North America. The route winds up into desert mountains, then back down into the dry valley below. You drive a hundred miles through the most desolate country imaginable and then repeat the process. You pass no one. The desert valleys are pancake flat and you can see 20-30 miles distant. Not a soul in sight. It’s just you and the rhythmic purr of your engine. At any speed you care to drive.
The towns are small and few. But occasionally you run across a real gem, like the Hot Spot drive-in restaurant in Salina, Utah or The Cup coffee shop in downtown Ely, Nevada. There are also many historic sites along this route, but two really stood out.
The ruins of the Cold Springs Pony Express Station, below, were stunning. It was like going back in time. I’d tell you how to get there, but it’s not near anything. In twenty years of travel across fourteen countries, this is one of the most remote historic sites I’ve ever seen. Perhaps that’s why the stone ruins are still in near perfect condition after more than 150 years. Start in Reno, drive 90 miles west on Route 50 and look for a historic marker. It’s worth the trip. Bring drinking water, a hat and hiking shoes. You’ll walk nearly two miles into the desert to see this site, but you’ll be glad you did.
The second must-see site is the Museum of the Mountain West in Montrose, Colorado. Tens of thousands of old west artifacts are housed in historic buildings that were saved from the ravages of time and moved to Montrose where they now form a miniature western town from the late-1800s. The founder and his wife will greet you in the parking lot. Their passion for all things old west is contagious. The museum is only a few minutes detour from Route 50 and very rewarding.
Stephen Cox: Driver, FIA EGT Championship & Super Cup Stock Car Series, CEO, Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN.
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