There are quite a few differences between the Nissan Leaf that the public are familiar with and the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC prototype. The changes had to be made to adapt the new Nissan for racing conditions, and the vehicle will be making its debut at the New York Auto Show 2011. It was designed by the motorsport group of Nissan, and it is hoped that this electric car will make a positive impact on the racing industry.
To begin with, the power of the vehicle is now directed to the back wheels by moving the inverter and lithium-ion battery pack. The synchronous (80k W) motor also has a very high response, allowing the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC to generate 207 lb-ft of torque and an amazing 107 horsepower. To racing enthusiasts, these statistics might not sound like much, but with the car’s battery being similar to a stock battery, they are able to get eighty percent charge from it. Of course the vehicle itself needed to be adjusted accordingly, increasing the length of the racing Nissan by 0.8 inches as well as dropping its height by 13.9 inches, giving it a ground clearance of 2.4 inches. Its wheelbase also had to be adjusted, and was made shorter by 3.9 inches. Its width was increased by 6.7 inches. In total, the racing edition of the Nissan Leaf now weighs 2 068 pounds and is able to reach speeds of sixty-two miles per hour in 6.85 seconds, and can reach a top speed of ninety-three miles per hour. When racing, it is expected to be able to maintain these speeds for at least twenty minutes.
The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC is the first step towards the vision that Nissan has for future racing, to create an industry that is still as exciting as it is today, but with no emissions. Chairman of Nissan Americas, Carlos Taveres, commented on the car’s appearance at the New York Auto Show, saying: “Combining the talents of NISMO, Nissan’s world renowned motorsports group, and engineers behind some of the company’s Super GT and FIA GT1 race teams, the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series.”
Australian Formula One driver Mark Alan Webber was born on 27 August 1976 in the New South Wales’ town of Queanbeyan in Australia. His father a motorcycle dealer, Mark Webber began racing motorcycles at a young age. In 1991 he decided to start karting, winning the New South Wales state championship two years later in 1993. The following year he went on to compete in the Australian Formula Ford Championship, where he finished 14th overall. 1995 saw greater success for Webber, who gained a number of victories and finished in fourth place.
Mark Webber moved to the United Kingdom in 1995, so as to further pursue his career in the world of auto racing. That same year he took part in the Formula Ford Festival for the Van Diemen team and took third position. In 1996 Webber came in second overall in the British Formula Ford Championship and third in the Formula Ford Euro Cup. At the end of 1996 he was signed by Alan Docking Racing to begin his foray into Formula Three racing in 1997. His Formula Three season was successful, ending the season in fourth position overall. Webber was signed to the Mercedes team for the 1998 FIA GT Championship. He met with further triumph that year, taking the runner-up position after five wins. 1999 saw Webber again racing for AMG, but the season was cut short after aerodynamic problems with the vehicles.
In 2000 Webber made a move to Formula 3000 racing. Racing for Eurobet Arrows, he came in third overall in the FIA International Formula 3000 series. A talented driver he went on to take second place in the 2001 F3000 season, driving for Super Nova Racing. 2001 also saw Mark Webber test driving for Benetton Formula One.
Mark Webber’s Formula One career began in 2002. Competing for the Minardi team, with teammate Alex Yoong, he impressed many in his debut season. Webber decided to join the Jaguar F1 team for the 2003 season, gaining 17 of the team’s 18 points and coming in tenth overall in the standings. He carried on with Jaguar in 2004, though it was a difficult season with few highlights to speak of. 2005 saw Webber joining the Williams team, though it was not quite what was hoped for, though he did qualify with seven top-five grid slots and gained a podium position in Monaco. Still with Williams in 2006, he was able to score just seven points for the season. Webber had a trying 2007 season with the Red Bull team, ending on 10 points and 12th place overall. 2008 was an improvement gaining 21 points and finishing 11th in the standings.
2009 was Mark Webber’s most successful F1 season. He finished fourth in the drivers’ championship with 69.5 points, racing for Red Bull. Amongst his achievements for the season were eight podium finishes, three fastest laps and two race wins. He continues racing with Red Bull for the 2010 season.
Formula One drivers have to be well trained, highly conditioned athletes able to cope with the forces exerted upon them whilst racing. It is not simply a matter of sitting in a car and driving, it requires physical and mental preparation for strength and stamina. So what is involved in F1 driver fitness training? And why is it necessary?
To begin, let’s answer the second question: Why? Immense forces or loadings created by F1 cars include lateral G-forces up to 4.5 G, or 25 kg on the neck of the driver. Longitudinal G-forces can also reach 4.5 G, sustained 3.5 G of cornering force in some instances, as well as braking of up to 4.5 G and acceleration of 1 G. During the course of a race a Formula One driver’s pulse rate will remain at approximately 160 beats per minute (BPM), sometimes peaking at more than 200 BPM. The driver’s blood pressure may increase by some 50 % during the race. Add to this the intense heat in the vehicle’s cockpit and you have a lot of factors that require training and preparation of the body to make it through the entire length of a race.
Depending on the F1 team, approaches to training may vary. Because of the size of a Formula One car cockpit, it is necessary that drivers do not put on too much weight whilst developing strength. Endurance is increased through cardio-vascular training including running, swimming, cycling and kayaking. Specific muscle groups, particularly the neck and chest require work, thus special equipment has been designed for F1 driver strength training.
Another factor in F1 driver fitness training is diet and nutrition. Carefully planned healthy diets ensure the correct amount of protein, minerals and carbohydrates are consumed. As drivers may loose some 2 to 3 liters of water while racing, it is vital that they drink plenty of water prior to racing. All in all the physical endurance of Formula One drivers is quite similar to that required by a marathon runner.
Mental training is vital for Formula One drivers who need to concentrate for extended periods of time. Drivers develop extremely fine tuned sensitivity, to the point that they can sense minute changes in front-rear aerodynamic balance. They are trained to keep the engine at approximated 2000rpm and are able to make consecutive lap-times in a range of just 0.2 seconds through careful pacing. Throughout the race it is vital for the driver to maintain complete awareness, control stress and make important decisions.
What do you do when you have lost your life partner, you are close to or just over sixty, you have too much life left in you to sit around and you need to find a hobby? You buy a Ford Thunderbird of course! Or at least that is exactly what a group of ladies did in South Valley, USA. A chance meeting of two widowed women at a traffic light, both driving Ford Thunderbirds, sparked an idea that began to grow as more ladies joined. The only requirement to join the group and hit the road is to own a Thunderbird.
Ford began to manufacture the Thunderbird, also referred to as the T-Bird, in the year 1955, and various generations of this sporty two-seater have been produced over the years, with the last revamped generation being produced in 2005. Eleven generations of Ford Thunderbirds were produced in those years and from the 1980s to the 1990s the Thunderbird became an extremely popular stock car vehicle in NASCAR racing. But is seemed that woman preferred the Thunderbird, not because of its aerodynamic features which was attractive to the racing community, but for its stylish looks and power under the hood. No wonder Thelma and Louise chose a Thunderbird to make their getaway!
The group of Thunderbird enthusiasts was formed by Maxine Brock and Barbara Heyes and over time more ladies began to join the monthly road trips which are taken to predetermined destinations. As the convoy of Thunderbirds hit the road, flashing lights, hooting and shouts of appreciation are a common sight, with a variety of Thunderbird models being part of the group. Beautifully restored and gleaming 1956 models to 2005 models, hard tops and soft tops, all hit the road together to make a spectacular family of Thunderbird generations. Many of the ladies fell in love with their vehicles after their first test drive, as expressed by group member Alicia Ykema: “I decided it’s hard to fly like an eagle with turkeys, so I needed a Thunderbird.” It just goes to show that the sensuous and attractive looks and driving pleasure of the Thunderbird is still being appreciated today and that it is a vehicle that will never go out of fashion.
Mention the Pontiac Firebird to virtually any person and they’ll know that it was one of the most memorable cars ever to roll off the manufacturer’s line – even if they know nothing more about it. The car has defined the lives of so many car lovers and it is truly one of the most spectacular muscle cars ever. The Pontiac Firebird emerged quite unpretentiously halfway through 1967 only to get heads turning and people talking. Before long, the motor industry was abuzz with excitement. The car was produced by the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors and it was designed and marketed as a pony car – an affordable, compact and stylish sporty car. Were it not for the Ford Mustang and the Mercury Cougar released that same year, the Pontiac Firebird would have completely dominated the scene.
The original model was built on GM’s F-body platform and it had a more likeable rendition of the Pontiac nose. A twin-scoop hood and nice curves further added to its sporty appeal. The Firebird also had a solid, rear axle – a feature which continued to be incorporated into future versions of the car. In 1969, the car had a major facelift. The entire front end was redesigned, making use of an Endura bumper to house the headlights and grilles. Even the instrument panel, steering wheel and ignition switch were changed and updated. For a bit of extra money, buyers could have the Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package which was a little bit more buff than the newly remodelled Firebird and which was named after the Trans-Am Series without permission. In the first year just 697 Trans-Ams were built – only eight of which were convertibles. The Trans-Am cars could be standard or beefed up but they only came in polar white with blue stripes. Today these are highly prized collectors’ cars.
The 1970s Firebird was a completely remodelled version of the classic. This second generation car featured a more sweeping body styling as opposed to the classic ‘coke bottle’ shape. The twin-scoops were made smaller and positioned closer to the front of the bonnet while the double-grille was split further apart and positioned between a single, functional headlight on either side of the car. The remodelling was a complete success and the car enjoyed massive sales. Ironically, the Firebird Trans-Am that emerged at this time were actually more boxy in shape with a protruding Pontiac nose and more angular shapes. Between 1982 and 1992, the third generation of Pontiac Firebirds emerged. The new models were lighter than older cars and incorporated GM’s CCC engine control system. They benefited from improved performance and better fuel economy and had a lower emission rate than previous models. The styling also changed somewhat, with two pop-up lights becoming the most prominent feature on the beautifully restyled front end. By 1984 the unique T-top styling also became a feature.
The fourth and most recent generation of Pontiac Firebird emerged in 1993 and ended in 2002. These beautifully sleek, aerodynamic cars have kept in line with the Firebird tradition of producing fast, stylish and affordable little cars. Truly, not enough can be said about the Firebird’s contribution to the world of muscle cars – but they continue to live on as a most memorable motor vehicle.