At What Price Progress?

Press deadline for this column is coming up right on the heels of the SEMA show. As most readers know the SEMA show is all about the entire motorsports aftermarket. The other thing we know is all the coolest of the latest hotrods built are debuted there. This writer could not make it there this year however he has been enjoying pics sent back to him by SEMA model, Tracy SG Rider. Friend her on Facebook.

I would just like to say that you truly cannot appreciate the magnificence of all of the creativity that goes into all of these cars and parts that are shown down there unless you have been there. And it is a shame that there are many members of our government that would very much like to see everyone of us being transported around in nameless, faceless, driver-less little boxes in the future. And as Gearheads I would like to think that there are damned few of us that would look forward to existing in that kind of a future. So with that said, let’s get on to the news of the day.

Communist China has made an announcement and now California has come on board with them. They are in favor of banning the sale and use of internal combustion engines in the future. And make no mistake about it, California is no bit player in the overall scheme of things. They are the sixth largest economy out there.

And let us consider one thing concerning this all electric vehicle Utopia that they envision. They all require batteries. And what do we all know about batteries? That’s right Egbert — they always go dead. So what then? We throw the whole car away just like our cordless drills, iPads and cell phones because it is too expensive otherwise. And understand this – that will get expensive! As you are forced to use more and more of your residual income in order to have transportation then what will that do to your discretionary income and your standard of living? Think about it.

There is a lot of talk about mining companies these days. This Brave New World that our Visionaries conceive of should work out quite well for them. This world full of batteries is going to require a long list of rare earth metals such as lithium and Cobalt. There is not enough of that around, so… China might be able to dig up a bunch of it. How much do you think they will charge us?

News from the Tesla front. Seems they are having a few problems with their every man car, so to speak. That would be the model 3. Seems they are having problems with the spot welds on the assembly line. Something to do with the car’s construction of mostly steel as opposed to aluminum. All we know is that they are behind schedule and they need to pick up the pace. Now we are hearing that they have fired something around 400 to 700 employees.

Now a tidbit from the European community it seems that the powers-that-be are attempting to declare mandatory insurance for all competitors in all of motorsports, all the way up to F1. But here is the rub, the insurance companies are not interested in issuing those kinds of policies. We will see what happens.

Motorsports magnate, Bob Lutz has written an article about the future of driving cars. It has proved to be quite controversial. Refer to Automotive News for more.

Now, here’s an update on Uber. This has to do with their flying car project. It is moving right along. They have signed an agreement with NASA to create a new air traffic control system for 2020. Elon Musk of Tesla has weighed in on this and he says—not doable.

And finally, back to Earth we have Google’s Waymo operating totally driver-less in Arizona. They are planning to be hauling around the public in just a few months.

Finally I must announce the loss of renowned, local race car designer, Rolla Vollstedt who passed on at the age of 99. Also my 20 + year old cat, Keeper passed on as she approached 99 in human years. Keeper was a car cat who made appearances in many of my Driveway Repair videos that I have done on YouTube. She is sorely missed. That’s all for now GearHeads.
—Chuck Fasst


Kickin’ Some Sand on the EPA

Breaking at press time we have this announcement from the US House: The Joint Chairmen of the Energy, Commerce and Environment Subcommittees announced the dismantling of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This plan was on shaky legal ground and placed an excessive burden on the EPA in the area of enforcement. With all of this said we can only hope that this will have a favorable result for the RPM Act as well. We will see how this all shakes out.

Speaking of shaking, this brings to mind a totally different subject. I have been helping Steveo, an OG GearHead buddy of mine with some Sand Racing this summer. We concluded a season of campaigning his wild ride called the “Sand Witch.” This thing definitely had some ground all Shook Up where we raced this summer. This buggy featured a blown and injected big block Chev on alcohol and it proved to be a real handful and one hell of a crowd-pleaser. Being faster than everybody was our mantra. And it most certainly provided a good dose of horsepower for those Gearhead addict’s that crave that sort of thing. If you are interested in viewing some of the antics, the videos can be found over at #OregonSandOutlaws .

On to other news. How many of you have heard about the Tesla Model S 60? As Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida. Tesla, as it turns out, lent all the owners of these cars a hand by remotely boosting their battery to enable them to travel further during the evacuation. Turns out the batteries in these models are exactly the same as the ones in their Deluxe models only they are turned down something like 25%. How enterprising? I dunno Gearheads. What do you think of this?

I am a fan of T Boone Pickens, the natural gas entrepreneur who runs the Pickensplan.com . He had some comments about the Nox emissions that are coming from the coal fired plants that are being used to produce the electricity for all these EVs. They are high! He claims that vehicles powered by natural gas engines would be way cheaper in the long run than the electrical ones. Especially, the heavy-duty rigs will be very expensive. This really is something we all need to think about GearHeads. How many of the masses will actually be able to afford to own these vehicles. There will be plenty more on this subject in the future.

Here is a little something else to chew on, GearHeads. How about the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt who is currently Under Fire for his excessive air travel on private jets. How much CO2 do you think those private jets are emitting as he flies around on his junkets?

Ok Oregonians, I have a little news on our own Senator Jeff Merkley and his visit to the GM battery plant. He was all excited about GM’s recent announcement to transition to all electric vehicles. Turns out this is coming soon! So the senator took this opportunity to introduce his 100 by ’50 Act. He hopes to have Oregon all-electric by 2050. He says that will create millions of jobs. Not quite sure how all that shakes out.

Then we are receiving word from Jalopnik that California Governor Jerry Brown is discussing banning all internal combustion engines in California. Just give these guys some time and enough rope.

We have an announcement from Land Rover who is introducing their “Road Rover” in 2019. Yes it will be all electric for about $100K.

In closing I would like to salute two more OG Gearheads who are no longer with us. First we have the PowerHouse from NASCAR, Robert Yates. Then we have SEMA vice president of Government Affairs, Steve McDonald. He was one of the founders of SEMASAN, the Specialty Automotive Network that does all of the legislative fighting for us.They were good men.

‘Nuff said,
Chuck Fasst, GearHeadsWorld.blogspot.com

The Future of Motorcar Racing?

 

 

Gearheads, we have been devoting quite a few columns to emerging technology. That is because there is a lot going on in the automotive world and we need to remain aware of it – all of it. We have been focusing on autonomous vehicles (AVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). But there is plenty going on out there. Consider this engine… from what we know it is sort of half diesel and half gasoline, incorporating the best of both worlds – more power, more mileage. We won’t get into the stoichiometruc ratios here. For now, we will say that it is altered considerably inside the combustion chambers of this engine.

Now, we know that Volvo has announced that they are electrifying their entire lineup. They have run into a slight hitch however with their AVs Down Under. It seems like the kangaroos are driving their algorithm bonkers. It just can’t seem to figure them out when they are out on the roads. Oh well, all in due time.

Henrik Fisker is introducing their 2019 Fisker Emotion. It has a 400 mile range and can be recharged in 9 minutes. This rig includes a lot of bells and whistles. Next we have the Infiniti Prototype 9 EVwhich was introduced at Pebble Beach.

Aston Martin is shooting for 100% hybrids. They intend to manufacture their own batteries and Motors as well. In other news we are hearing that Renault – Nissan is partnering with China. Mercedes-Benz has cancelled their next Gen 5 class convertible. Audi has cancelled their next-gen A5 and A8 but are coming out with an “E” A8.

At press time we are hearing word about a new Electric GT Racing Series featuring a version of the P100D, Tesla Model S all in carbon fibre. It looks like they have tons of horsepower and tons of downforce. If this comes to fruition, it will be global. They are currently seeking investors. They are saying this, “We know the future of motorsports is electric.”

There is plenty more Gearheads but we have to end this at some point for this month. How about we leave you with this news from Autoline Daily — Corvette has closed their assembly line for 3 months. This could be for a number of reasons as most of us are aware of the rumors floating around about the Next-Gen Vette. But we will close with this, the latest numbers show that auto sales are down pretty much across the board worldwide. And that includes the sales of luxury cars to the wealthy.

Rockin’ Around the Block

If you weren’t at the Northwest Motorsports Associations Rockin Around the Block cruise last month, you missed a big one. Hundreds of cars showed up for this day long event that benefits scholarships for the automotive program at Mount Hood Community College. Rockin’ Ron Rudy and his band supplied the street dance as Hot Rods and cool cars filled in the entire Gresham downtown area. The event then wrapped with the cruise of Main Street.

Jerry Lyons of MHCC was this year’s chairperson of the event. At the last NWMA staff meeting he reported that the entire MHCC staff very pleased with the success of the event. This year’s contribution to the Scholarship Fund will be signifcant, adding to considerable contributions from prior years. NWMA has plenty to be proud of. This year’s event was the most successful of many years. GearHeads: you might want to leave room in your calendars for next year’s 20th. Annual event.

 

National Collector Car Appreciation Day is Arriving

First and foremost I would like to take a moment to mention Vic Edelbrock Jr., who passed away at press time. He caught a cold and he died at age 80. I had the pleasure of talking with him on a number of occasions as he represented his company. If there ever was a true GearHead, he was one.
On a lighter note we are announcing the birthday of SEMA hall-of-famer Alex Xydias who has turned 95.

Now announcing National Collector Car Appreciation Day. This is our own personal holiday Gearheads. So, yes there are many members of Congress who think highly of us and our industry. They acknowledge that we have contributed much to America throughout the last century. So please take a moment to think about this on Friday July 14th. All GearHeads are encouraged to drive their cars on that day. There are many events going on to celebrate this holiday all across the nation and even in some foreign Nations. Check SEMAsan.com for a list of events.

In other news the Recognizing The Protection of Motorsports (RPM) act continues to gain support in the House and Senate. We have over 125 Congressional sponsors. This is the act that is helping to beat back the EPA in there efforts for over enforcement of regulations that pertain to purpose-built race cars with vin tags and all of the industries that support them. If you have not yet signed on to this effort go to www.SEMA.org/RPM.

SEMA is actively working in a number of states on a number of issues. Interestingly a recent bill has passed in Oregon which allows all military vehicles to obtain SP plates. This does not mean much to me because, as a certified signer for SP plates , I would pass all military vehicles. Now on to the state of Washington. They have opened their roads to use by autonomous vehicles. They see the economic value of getting involved with this. This is big, big money and a lot is happening.

Now something interesting in California. The Senate has passed the surveillance transparency bill SB 21. This bill will require all police surveillance such as license plate readers, drones and such to be approved locally. They are leading the way in this effort. In addition California has been working on tightening up federal asset civil forfeiture laws. There are horror stories about people traveling to buy a collector car and being pulled over by cops who find the cash they are carrying and steal it from them under these Federal statutes. All they have to do is simply suspect that the cash might be ill-gotten and they can just take it! So what do you think of that Gearheads?

Audi is coming to NY. intending to demonstrate and test vehicles in New York with Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) Level 3 automation, according to the company. It will conduct the first autonomous vehicle demonstration in state history, beginning in Albany, near the state capitol, in mid-June.

I have had plenty to say about EVs and AVs in this column. Now let’s talk about some predictions. “Rethinks” is a think tank who has been looking into a future of driverless autonomous vehicles and the impact they will have. They are saying that ride-sharing will grow big and will cause car sales to collapse. Ride-sharing will reduce the American vehicle Fleet to one fifth of today’s.

Manufacturing of new cars will drop 70% by 2030. Price of oil will drop drastically by 2021. Dealerships, gas stations and car repair shops will completely disappear. Even now we have GM divesting their manufacturing in all of Europe and in numerous other countries. What do you think of all of this Gearheads?

Now let’s talk about how the EVs and AVs are entering into the racing world.

Universities, high schools and middle schools are getting more involved in this technology. Many of them are building kart tracks for the students. High schools have the ev Grand Prix.

Jegs has built some EV Jr Dragsters. They are bad fast and they have to slow them down for the kids. Most of us know the ungodly torque EVs can make. New technology that is leading to super fast charging is really going to propel this industry, not only in racing but on the streets.
A company called Dubuc Motors is set to release their Tomahawk luxury, carbon fiber, sports car in 2018. It can do 0 to 60 in 2 seconds with its 1,000 lbs/ft of torque and 4 electric motors.

They say, “We think we can even go eventually under 1 second 0 to 60 making it faster then any vehicle in existence.”
Daymak Inc. has announced its new product, the Daymak-C5-Blast Go-Kart, a machine the Daymak team believes will be the fastest electric go kart in the world.
“We have developed the fastest, 100% clean energy go kart in the world by far,” says Aldo Baiocchi, President of Daymak, adding that company plans are to achieve 0 to 60 in less than 1.5 seconds.

“It will be a little faster than the Tesla P100D,” says Baiocchi.
According to Daymak, the C5 Blast Go-Kart features a liquid cool 10000w watt motor, Daymak Drive controller, 8 EDF motors. 4 in front and 4 in rear.

Then we have the Chinese Start Up company, NIO who has come out with the electric Hybrid called EP9 that has set a new production lap at Nurburgring surpassing the Lamborghini Huracan.

A lot of talk has been in the news lately of self-driving Taxi’s, with Über and other Taxi companies being interested in the technology. Now the Russian technology giant Yandex, has unveiled its self-driving Taxi prototype. The company has stated that eventually it would like to partner with car manufacturers who are looking to bring autonomous cars to the market. And don’t forget the Uber Flying Car, coming to skies near you soon.

We would like to give kudos to an area shop, Steve’s Auto Restorations for donating a steel ’34 Custom Roadster body to the Ironmen Foundation providing scholarships to the children of fallen U.S. soldiers.

And finally, Panther has just released their new line of 2017 water cars. I am remembering a vid I saw of one of these that looked like a Corvette and it was a monster on the water.

~Chuck Fasst, GearHeadsWorld.blogspot.com

EV Cars & the RPM Bill

ev-car

 First we need to acknowledge the passing of two motorsports industry giants.
John Dianna from Hot Rod Magazine fame and Brock Yates from Car & Driver and inventor of the Cannon Ball Run. These guys put it out there and it is up to us to keep it out there. That means we need to keep it up with the Support of the upcoming RPM Bill, our battle against the EPA who would change all of what these men stood for. Be sure to get back to SEMA.com and fire one last shot even if you have already been there once.

Now lets talk about EV Cars, that would be cars powered by batteries—the kinds of cars the EPA would love to have every driver in America driving. Any responsible GearHead would be against that idea. And we are not alone. There are many other major industries fighting EPA tooth and nail over this sort of thing. But be aware, there are also many other industries jumping into this EV craze in a big way – to the tune of over 200 startups entering this market – and heavily subsidized by our government. And get this – China is making a big move in this area. Imagine a future generation of Millennial offspring all compliantly motoring around the Nation in little electric cars … from China! A generation that barely knows anything about what muscle cars once were.
This brings us to Autonomous Cars—those which will haul you around without the necessity of you doing any navigating. Hands off that wheel! I should remind you that for publication purposes, these futuristic scenarios are the opinion of this writer. Well, there are many others in agreement. Be advised that they are already appearing in cities. Looks like taxis will be the first. No more Uber drivers. Imagine a future when you will be criminally prosecuted for touching that wheel. Imagine a future where you will be prosecuted if you are caught simply owning a car that requires you to drive it. Imagine a future where internal combustion musclecars are long, long gone—outlawed! Imagine this all coming faster than you can imagine!
Speaking of fast, we should probably mention Roborace. This is a racing series of autonomously controlled electric racecars running the top roadracing circuits all around the UK and elsewhere. These cars will be strictly run by an algorithm, no human contact or guidance. That starts this year. Sounds like revenge of the nerds to me.
Oh and did we mention the 48 volt hybrids that are coming? Well ’nuff said for now. What say you, GearHeads?

Next we will be getting into a real sticky wicket concerning the subject of cyber security and these autonomous cars. By next issue the SEMA Show will be concluding and General Hayden will have given his speech. Retired four-star General Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), will speak at the AAPEX 2016 General Session taking place on Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 8 a.m. to 8:50 a.m., (PST), at the Venetian in Las Vegas. We will see what he has to say on  this subject.

RPM Act Update

Hopefully if you are a Motorsports enthusiast you are well aware of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 , HR- 4715. This act introduced by US Representative Patrick McHenry (R- NC) is the flagship for our battle against the EPA’s attempt to keep us from modifying and racing modern cars.

In an age where monolithic mega-corporations are jumping into the car building business—including many unlikely ones like Google, we must be ever more vigilant. We now have massive corporations joining together in Partnerships to produce autonomous cars.

The most of us are aware of the man who loved his Tesla sports car and was cut in half when it drove itself underneath a big truck. In the future our government will be attempting to force these kinds of cars on all of us, effectively wresting from us the ability to even control our own cars as they drive down the street.

Consider this additional complication now showing up in our Millennials. We have a generation of humans that are gradually losing their grip strength because they do not do much more with their hands than hold a cellphone. It could be that in the future they will not even have enough strength to wrap their hands around the steering wheel. Can you imagine that?
The RPM Act is but one battle in the war against the EPA’s ever-increasing power grabs. If we win this one , you can be assured that the EPA will turn around and hit us from another direction. It is more important than ever that we all remain informed as we move on into our future.

Let me quote Eric Snyder from SEMA. “The unforeseen effects of the EPA’s position is a decline in track revenues which means less money to put back into improving amenities and safety. There will be reduced revenues for the surrounding communities including restaurants hotels and stations, gas stations and supermarkets.”

“… Companies that produce, sell and install Racing Parts and Equipment would be particularly hard hit by the EPA’s policy change which will result in Racing Products disappearing from the shelves of retailers and installers who are no longer willing to perform race vehicle modifications.”

To quote SEMA, “US Representative Richard Hudson (R- NC) is a racing fan and a passionate advocate for those who need the RPM Act to become law in order to provide certainty to their businesses.”

Representative Hudson says, “The EPA’s position on race modifications threatens the livelihood of folks all across the country… Even if I didn’t represent a whole lot of racing enthusiasts I would be outraged by the ridiculous government overreach.”

So GearHeads, if you have not yet gone over to SEMA.com and provided your information to send a letter to your Congress people, you should do so now. It’s on you. SEMA has made it easy for you. It will take all of a minute for you to fill in your information and they will do the hard part, sending letters off to your representatives for you. Okay?

RPM Act Update

Gearheads Must Continue to Fight for Our rights

Those of you who have been reading this EPA column now know about their attempted power grab and the resulting backlash from that effort. SEMA is the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association. They fight for our rights in ways that we simply can’t. They took hold of this and led the charge. We joined in and let our Representatives know. Then State’s Attorneys General stood up one by one and refused to abide by the EPA language as written. The EPA subsequently changed the wording on one sentence. That took care of the issue at hand for the time being.

You also know that SEMA filed the RPM Act which was meant to limit the powers of the EPA. They well know that once a Government agency obtains a certain amount of power – they will never cease in their attempts to grab more. We have since had an increasing number of Representatives stand up behind the RPM act. But we are not out of the woods yet. It still has a ways to go.

Before we go any further, we would like you to consider a scenario such as this: You want to improve the performance of your tow rig for hauling your racecar cross country. You have installed CARB approved parts on your engine to accomplish this. This requires that you re-program your CPU in the rig. Next thing you know you are in a jail. Perhaps it was your second offense and the powers that be had decided to make that into some kind of a gross misdemeanor. Of course this sounds totally absurd – but there is no telling what the future may hold. The RPM Act did not cover your truck because it is not used on a racetrack.

Granted, the EPA’s efforts might be well better spent going after gross corporate polluters as opposed to a relative handful of hot rodders. But who are we to say? Of course we do have some say. In addition SEMA has asked that we share this to our social media platforms. They have made this very easy for us over at their website. If you have not done so yet, we encourage you to get on over to SEMA.org at your earliest convenience or you can get there from #GearHeadsWorld. Sign on with SEMA and they will carry the rest. We win this battle and then get ready for the next.

Mark your calendars for Friday July 8th. That is National Collector Car Day … got it? That is OUR Holiday. If you would like to know more about this you can visit the Blog over at #GearHeadsWorld. So enough said here—what say you?

~ Chuck Fasst

H.R. 4715/S. 2659, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016

Art is in the Eye of the Beholder

valkyrian-steel

Probably truer words have never been spoken when it comes to the eye of the GearHeads of the world.

Those who build the hot rods of today are considered artisans in their own right – and for good reason. Thanks to reality shows on modern day TV, the general public has been given a bird’s eye view of the creations and the many characters that build them. Indeed, the viewing public comes to the awareness that some of these craftsmen prove to be quite a piece of work themselves – to gaze upon!

All one has to do is look back through the Deusenbergs of the days of yore to realize that art has been a part of the automobile from the beginning.  Why even as Henry Ford manufactured a million black, Model T Fords there could have been an artistic glint behind those bespectacled eyes … well, maybe not.  But fast forward to the present day and there is no question that there is art to behold in any man’s eye when it comes to current car creations. It’s just that … er, one man’s taste might vary a bit from the next man’s in some situations.
Behold The Valkyrian Steel.

As the average man gazes upon this 29 foot monstrosity, he might make the connection on how this might very well appeal to your average GearHead. Because one might naturally assume that, what with all them gears and such churning around inside the heads of these hot rodders, this would be totally acceptable. Then again … that might depend upon what one might consider “natural.”

One might be a bit taken aback to note most of the GearHeads unsteadily wandering off with a vacant look in their eyes. Trust me on this one – as one of the wanderers, I can attest to this.  However, if one is to delve deeper into the conundrum that is the Valkyrian Steel, one learns that this is indeed a commissioned work of art that was built for a specific purpose.

If one can just open one’s mind to a vision of a mighty warrior machine lumbering through a smoky, fiery wasteland on a mission to rescue a giant burning man from the Apocalypse.  One can then truly understand how this man made machine would fit right into the annual Burning Man trek into the desert. ‘nuff said.

But can we at least give the real eye candy a little love. There is no question the hordes of fantastic new builds to be seen at this year’s SEMA Show was the true car porn that all the GearHeads drool over.  We have been seeing them in many of the articles and shows that are coming out on this colossal show.

Alas we would be remiss if we did not wrap this up with that other art form that is the pearl of many a GearHead’s eye.  That would be the many and myriad parts and pieces that make up the whole. Whether they be hand formed, cad/cam, CNC, billet, plated, anodized, painted, water blasted or 3d printed.  The latest and greatest of man’s creations that are the parts that make the whole hot rod, are at this fabulous show – all lit up.  A satisfying array meant to placate all of those motorhead addicts—those reversely synergistic types who fully believe that it is, indeed the sum of the parts that is greater than the whole.  Go to #GearHeadsWorld for more on the Valkyrian Steel and many other SEMA cars.
So, what say you GearHeads, which is the purest art form?  Is it the whole car you see before you or is it the sum of all the man made pieces that make the whole?

Or might it be something more visceral like wrapping one hand around a wheel and the other on a gearshift?

valkyrian-steel2