There’s no debating that the global recession is hitting every aspect of the economy hard. Auto manufacturers seem to be having an especially tough time and this has understandably led to Honda Motor Co.‘s decision to withdraw from Formula One racing.
After sales in the U.S. started plummeting with the economic recession, Honda Motor Co. has had to make some tough calls. The U.S. was the company’s most profitable market. But their sales plummeted a striking 32% during the month of November alone – the worst drop the company has seen since 1981. Weak consumer sentiment and economic slowdown are the main reasons for the fall, neither of which have a quick-fix solution. Instead, Honda has had to take a long hard look at how the company is run and has chosen to re-focus its efforts in the industry. With regards to making cars, this means cutting down on luxury car development and speeding up the development of diesel engines, hybrid cars and compact cars. Honda’s F1 operations were carefully considered and eventually it was decided that they were unsustainable and expensive. The decision to leave F1 and the subsequent laying-off of assembly workers and reductions in production costs has slashed at least 20 billion yen (US$216 million) off the company’s productions costs. The engineers that were involved in those facets of the industry have been reassigned.
President Takeo Fukui said: “This difficult decision has been made in the light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry. Honda must protect its core business activities.”
Further, the company has decided not to supply engines to other teams and their Brackley, England-based team is up for sale. If the team is not bought, it will be the second team to leave the sport. The last team to quit was Honda-backed Super Aguri which folded earlier this year due to lack of funding. That will leave only nine teams to compete in the sport, and it seems this could be the start of a rather scary trend. According to Max Mosley, president of the F1 ruling body of the FIA, teams spend as much as $1.6 billion on the Formula One racing series each year. That amount is clearly unsustainable and, with the current economic conditions and current scandals that have unraveled in the sport, may ultimately see the disappearance of the sport altogether. However at this point other teams seem determined to continue.
Honda is not leaving off motor sport altogether. The company hopes to continue racing in the MotoGp motorcycle series as well as the IndyCar series.
The Ford Mustang has always been a dream car to many. With popular models such as the FR500C, the FR500GT and the FR500S, it is hard to imagine that these models can be improved on. But on the fortieth anniversary of the Cobra Jet, Ford has produced a new FR500CJ drag racer, which will have every Mustang fan wishing they had one. The Cobra Jet Mustang Drag Car was created to be one of the most breathtaking factory built drag cars on the market. Attention to detail and creating raw power doesn’t just make the Cobra Jet Mustang Drag Car great, it makes it spectacular.
The Cobra Jet Mustang Drag Car was created to make a statement, and Ford is exceptionally proud of their latest member of the Mustang range. The Cobra Jet will have a six speed manual gearbox fitted, however a three speed automatic gearbox can be fitted on request, and will be powered by a 5.4L V-8 engine. A few features were changed from the previous models to enhance the performance of the Cobra Jet, such as an adjusted wheel and tire combination, so that the Cobra Jet will be better suited to drag racing.
Other features include a nine inch rear axle, larger throttle body, single hoop driveshaft loop with a one piece driveshaft, crankshaft dampener, long tube stainless steel headers, an anti-roll bar, cold air intake, drag race spring kit and specially designed rear control arms. The new Cobra Jet will produce four hundred horsepower and will comfortably fall within the ten second ranges.
Unfortunately, there is no hope of running off to purchase one, as only fifty Cobra Jet Mustang Drag Cars will be manufactured, of which all fifty have already been bought and will be dropped off at the respective dealerships for their new owners to collect. Even though Ford has said that there might be a chance of them manufacturing more Cobra Jets in the future, no definite plans have been made yet. There is still some light at the end of the tunnel, as the Cobra Jet will be manufactured from Ford performance parts that the public will be able to purchase. So with a little saving and patience, Mustang enthusiasts will be able to build their own Cobra Jet. Ford Racing Technology Director, Brian Wolfe, was quoted saying: “The 2008 CJ will get us more involved with the sportsmen racers in drag racing. Those Ford racers are among the most loyal Ford supporters and customers we have. The CJ makes a statement for our company that even in times as tough as these, we can introduce something as special as the Cobra Jet. As a guy who has tracked Ford history from the beginning and understands the significance of the CJ, this is by far the best factory drag car that we have produced.”
A number of local car manufacturers that have been involved in NASCAR for a long time are now looking to downsize their racing ventures because of financial woes. One might think that this would see more variety hit the race track, but instead it seems it may be the start of hard times ahead for NASCAR.
Apparently representatives from several overseas car manufacturing companies have said that they are not interested in getting involved in NASCAR races, such as the Daytona 500, in the near future. Volkswagen, for instance seemed more concerned about environmental concerns than getting involved with big NASCAR races. They commented that they were not at all interested in investing their money in gasoline-powered racing at this point in time, but also noted that if NASCAR allowed turbos and diesels to race in their series they might start to consider it. With the company set to open a new manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, it would seem that getting involved in big local motor sports is the next logical step. But instead the company seems dead-set against it, citing the fact that it is not as financially viable as other forms of racing. Motosports manager for VW America Clark Campbell noted that their entire involvement in the Jetta TDI Cup amounts to only about “two weeks worth of budget for a NASCAR team.” Hence, their efforts will continue to focus on the Jetta TDI Cup series while they work hard at tripling their current share in the U.S. car market during the next ten years.
Honda, on the other hand, is currently the only >car manufacturer involved in the IndyCar Series. But that might soon change. Despite the fact that the company has enjoyed a steady rate of sales in the U.S., they do not share the same sentiments as NASCAR when it comes to developing racecar technology. Honda wants to use what they learn on the track in the cars they put on display in the show room, but NASCAR wants to keep all the cars on a level playing field by restricting technology. Hence Honda is not particularly impressed with the NASCAR racing situation at present.
Meanwhile Nissan seems to be harping on their racing heritage, saying that they have always been involved in championship road racing and so it seems that they will stick to that form of racing in the years to come. Of course there are many other car manufacturers that also need to decide whether or not to get involved in NASCAR racing, but if the trend continues, fans could be at a loss for good racing in the near future.
With the objective of providing auto racing drivers with knowledge to enable them to make educated decisions regarding their personal safety as well as elevating safety at the track, Racingsafer.com will be hosting a Driver Safety Seminar at the K-Star Ranch in Mansfield, Texas on 26 January 2008. The seminar has been arranged in response to requests from various race tracks, manufacturers and service providers in the interests of promoting racing safety.
Although auto racing is an inherently dangerous sport, safety equipment and chassis manufacturers continuously make advancements in their products, which help to make this popular sport safer. There is no legal requirement for drivers to update their equipment, but many sanctioning bodies and racing track authorities try to encourage drivers to take advantage of rapidly advancing technology to enhance the safety level of auto racing.
The keynote speaker at the Racingsafer.com Driver Safety Seminar will be Tina Cresswell, the Sales Manager of Simpson Race Products. Having worked at Simpson Racing Products for 10 years and with 12 years of auto and sprint car racing experience, Tina is certainly qualified to offer sound advice on the latest technology.
Representatives from FASTT Motorsports Rescue will give some valuable insight on providing a safer environment for drivers and their crews, as well as for spectators at the track. The FASTT rescue truck is fully equipped with advanced rescue equipment which includes, saw-alls, hydraulic rescue tools (Jaws of Life), jacks for vehicle stabilization and hand tools. Additionally the truck, known as “Rescue 1”, is outfitted with a variety of fire extinguishers as well as a system capable of extinguishing larger fires. Rescue 1 is also equipped with life support equipment to attend to the medical needs of injured drivers. Each member of the FASTT team has received extensive training in track safety and fire suppression, as well as rescue and emergency medicine.
Participants at the Driver Safety Seminar stand in line to win some great auto racing related prizes. These prizes will include safety equipment and the latest fuel cell product from RCI as well as a Fire Tech System. One lucky seminar participant will be awarded with a Team Membership to the Hall of Fame by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum.
The proceeds of the Racing.com Driver Safety Seminar will benefit the Ryan Bard Foundation and go toward future events for driver safety education, which is sure to benefit all involved in the fast moving world of auto racing.
One of the prime international auto shows in the world, the 2008 NAIAS, is set to take place from Saturday 19 January through to Sunday 27 January 2008. Companies in the automotive industry will have the opportunity to attend a preview of this much anticipated auto show on Wednesday 16 January and Thursday 17 January 2008, before it is opened to the general public.
The NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) started way back in 1907 as the Detroit Auto Show, which was a regional event with seventeen exhibitors. Over the years since then the show has grown to be an international world class event with more than 60 exhibitors representing well respected manufacturers and suppliers in the auto industry. The NAIAS has grown in popularity among auto enthusiasts who travel from far and wide to attend this well organized event.
Auto racing fans are no doubt looking forward to the Sprint Racing Day which is scheduled for Friday 25 January 2008 as part of the NAIAS. Auto racing drivers that will be present to sign autographs include American Le Mans Series driver Bryan Herta, IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan, as well as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle. Racing enthusiasts, young and old, can experience the thrill of auto racing while testing their driving skills in one of four three-quarter scale racing car simulators. Fans can expect to see exclusive video footage of the exciting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. There will be plenty of giveaways and a number of surprise appearances by some of the auto racing industry’s top drivers. Car displays will be put on by several top automotive manufacturers. The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, American Le Mans Series and the IndyCar Series racing leagues will be represented in this motor sport celebration.
The NAIAS Automotive Education Day hosted by State Farm Insurance is scheduled for Wednesday 23 January starting at 8:30 am. The program will provide high school students with a unique opportunity to explore career paths within the auto industry.
There will be a number of contests running throughout the 2008 NAIAS including a photo contest, poster contest and the innovative “Courageous Persuaders” – a contest where high school students produce a video highlighting the growing problem and dangers of underage drinking. The judges of the competition include middle school students, thereby exposing them to responsible role models, sending a meaningful message.
With so much on offer for every member of the family, whether they are auto racing fans or not, the 2008 NAIAS is an event that should not be missed.