Chip Yates is a bit of a rock star in the world of electric vehicles. He started out as an engineer for McLaren Automotive before becoming a professional motorcycle racer at the World Superbike level at the age of 36. A broken pelvis sustained in a crash brought an end to his racing career and into the field of electric vehicles. Chip gathered some of his friends and spent his savings building a motorcycle for a new electric racing series forming in California. His new bike proved so fast that it was banned from the series before it even started. Undaunted, Yates entered the bike in a race against traditional gas combustion powered motorcycles where he nabbed two podium finishes. Chip continued to push the boundaries of electric motorcycle performance with a land speed record at Bonneville and a record for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Check out this interview that Chip did with Motor Trend where he tells the stories of his start and success in the electric vehicle world. There’s even footage from the electric airplane he built by putting the UQM motor from his electric motorcycle in an old Burt Rutan VariEze home-built kit plane. He burned up his battery pack setting the world speed record for electric airplanes before having to make an emergency landing.
Motor Trend managed to get their hands on one of the new C7 Corvettes for a quick test. Initial impressions are very positive. The Corvette has always had a reputation of being the best “performance bargain.” On the one hand, that means that you get a lot of outright speed and performance for how much the car costs. On the other hand that meant that buying a Corvette meant that you were making compromises in refinement even though the car was really fast. It seems that General Motors listened to the complaints and addressed them with this new car.
The new LT1 engine is still a pushrod V8 but it now has direct injection, variable valve timing and variable displacement. It legitimately makes more power with less fuel. There were rumors that the C7 was going to move to a smaller 5.5 liter twin turbo V8 for the sake of fuel efficiency, but the engineers figured out they could get better mileage out of a bigger 6.2 liter naturally aspirated V8. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s all about the variable displacement system that shuts off half the engine when power requirements are small. In going to a bigger V8, the engine was also a bigger V4 when half of the cylinders were turned off. This meant that the LT1 could operate as a V4 for more of the duty cycle which resulted in better gas mileage than even the turbo engine could manage.
GM also payed special attention to the interior quality and the lateral support of the seats-two of the biggest complaints about the C6 Corvette. There are more premium materials, like carbon fiber and leather, that define the sharp new design that ties in to the Stingray theme. As you will see in the video, there is a decent sized infotainment touchscreen on the dash and a customizable digital gauge cluster that will give you the old school bar graph tachometer from the C3.
Carlos also says that the new electronically adjustable diff, suspension and tire temperature monitors work with the traction control systems to seamlessly make the car a lot more agile and competent. He goes on to talk about how the front and rear axles are balanced and much more communicative which allows the driver to push the car with confidence.
It looks like General Motors was serious about making the Corvette a serious world class car. Instead of being the compromised bargain, it seems the C7 is now a legitimate all-around sports car that happens to be cheaper than its competition. Kudos to GM for listening to what their customers wanted and then delivering the goods. I can’t wait for the Z06 and ZR-1 versions of this new C7.
“The answer to everything is Miata” is a running joke over on the Grassroots Motorsports forum. It’s funny because it’s true: the Miata is the perfect blend of low cost of entry, performance potential and practicality. They’re simply fun little cars. Mazda built this MX-5 Super20 concept for the SEMA show in 2010 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Miata. All they had to do was turn to the prolific and enthusiast driven aftermarket that has built itself around the fun to drive nature of the car. The Super20 has a Cosworth engine being force fed by a Flyin’ Miata supercharger kit. Power output is estimated at 225 to 250 horsepower. Suspension has also been upgraded and really wide 16 inch Toyo racing tires fill the widened fender flares.
I really like Carlos’s analogy of music for sports cars. There are cars that perform well because they are designed to do so in a very specific way like the GT-R. He says cars like these represent Punk Rock. They’re in your face in terms of outright performance despite of what driving style you may have behind it’s wheel. Cars like the Miata are more about existing in harmony with the melody of the driver.
Follow along with the Technical Editor of Petersen’s 4-Wheel and Offroad as he goes on the first ever midnight run of the BFE area south of Moab, Utah during this year’s Easter Jeep Safari. There’s not much else to say beyond that it’s just some chill crawling footage. Also check out the orange Jeep that has two front ends.
Welcome to the latest and greatest Nissan GT-R, the 2014 Track Pack. The GT-R story is unique in the automotive world starting with its legacy of racing excellence and continuing with the current R35 model which retained its full developmental program that continually refines the car and the engineers that build it through endurance racing. That’s why each model year of the GT-R goes beyond incremental steps of refinement to a full blown evolution of the previous model. The GT-R is often considered The Pride of Japan which is apparent in the dedication to the uniquely Japanese way of building sports cars. Check out the video to see Motor Trend’s Carlos Lago and Randy Pobst test the weekend warrior Track Pack for the GT-R at Willowsprings: