PORTO, PORTUGAL - After Audi’s popular A4 sedan received an all-new generation version that appeared in North American showrooms earlier this year, you knew it wouldn’t be long before its ...
Lincoln’s turnover of its staid lineup has been chugging along for the past few years with new MKC and MKX crossovers, but it will really pick up steam in the second half of 2016. An all-new ...
The Buick Enclave feels a bit like the forgotten member of the brand’s crossover / SUV lineup. While the compact Encore will get a facelift for 2017 and the mid-size Envision is new to the North ...
Here is our list of 5 (Five) Best and Worst Things About The Upcoming 2018 Audi A5 Coupe. BEST 1) Slippery style: Super refined but sporty style, with aerodynamics honed down to a slippery 0.25 ...
There are many forms of racing and all have their merits and challenges, but where does someone start when they do not have the experience or a limited budget to compete? The Ontario Time Attack ...
Jen Horsey in her first national event in the race car she bought built. The best racing advice I ever got was to buy built. It sounds counterintuitive – especially to the mechanically inclined who ...
Always wanted to go car racing, but didn’t know what or where to race? This year, the Western Canada Motorsport Association (WCMA) has made it even easier to “race what you’ve got.” For two of our ...
The Confederation of Autosport Car Clubs (CACC) holds motorsports events all year long on the west coast. In the winter months, a very dedicated group of racers look forward to the freezing weather ...
Truro, Nova Scotia – Here we are again, two months into 2016 and it is looking like a repeat of the winter of 2015, albeit with less snow and crazy temperature shifts so far. With most of the club ...
Driving the new C 63 AMG S coupe is an exercise in restraint. I suspect that owning one, then, will be that and many more things. The car’s purpose is simple. To be the best C-Class ever. And it ...
PORTO, PORTUGAL - After Audi’s popular A4 sedan received an all-new generation version that appeared in North American showrooms earlier this year, you knew it wouldn’t be long before its hot-looking coupe sibling would be similarly revised. But unlike its four-door stablemate, Audi will introduce the A5 Coupe into market at the same time as its hotter S5 performance version, with both scheduled to arrive at Canadian dealers in spring 2017, as 2018 models. It’s the first all-new A5 since the subtly stylish coupe was introduced in 2007, quite a long time even in an era of extended life spans for sporty models – especially German luxury ones. Audi spent the extra time refining the interior and technology of the A5, while lightening and boosting the performance side of the performance-oriented S5, which features a powerplant that has the same displacement, but is turbocharged instead of supercharged, and radically different otherwise. Exterior design adds some CanCon in aerodynamics Neither model looks hugely different, which is a plus as these were subtly some of the best-looking German luxury coupes on the market. The most immediate difference lies in the revised LED headlights, which now has its hockey stick-shaped blade pointed downwards towards its outer edges, in a form that’s similar to 2017 Ford Fusion. A neat touch at the rear are the LED turn signals that move in the direction you want to go, Mustang style, though not with three bars following each other, but in Teutonically straight and highly defined yellow strips underneath the brake lights. In between those extremities lie slightly more pronounced fenders meant to highlight an increased muscularity, with the S5 featuring distinctive aluminum trim and mirror housings, as per S-line custom. This car’s super-slippery 0.25 co-efficient of drag helps keep it quiet at highway speeds exceeding 140 km/h (highways in Portugal are largely limited to 120km/h, but even automatic photo radar traps don’t generally trip below 145 km/h, according to locals). This Prius-like aerodynamics figure also provides a bit of Canadian content, as they were honed under the direction of Ottawa-born aerodynamicist Dr. Moni Islam, a Montreal-raised engineer who holds degrees from Concordia and the University of Toronto. Engine upgrades for both These slightly more aggressive accents are backed up by more power under the hood for both the A5 and S5. The A5 receives a healthy bump up in power from the current model’s 220 hp, with 252 hp coming from a turbocharged four-cylinder that continues in 2.0-litre form. On the road, this engine provided a smooth yet lively companion, quietly obedient in urban conditions – though from the outside, its direct injection is surprisingly loud and diesel-like. It offers a responsive urge when called upon, especially if used in conjunction with the shift paddles that are now standard on all ‘5’ models. Audi stakes a credible claim of 5.8 seconds for its 0-100 km/h time, with fuel economy not yet confirmed for North America, but likely close to the ’17 A4 quattro sedan’s 8.7 L/100km average. The A5 uses a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the S5 comes with an eight-speed Tiptronic unit. No manual gearboxes are planned for this side of the world, a reflection of just how few opt to shift their own gears, even in performance vehicles. With the original S5 offering up a muscular supercharged V8 with 354 ponies, the last generation’s supercharged powerplant’s 333 was a kinder, gentler offering, in performance and at the pump. For this 2018 model, power is back up to 354 metric horses, though its U.S. horsepower figure comes in at 349 hp (and 249 hp for the A5 Coupe). Torque rises even more substantially, up to 369 lb-ft, helping to propel the S5 from rest in an official 4.7 seconds. Interior comfort and convenience upgrades the most apparent of all The tech-heavy interior is by far the most improved aspect of the A5 family, especially in our afternoon testing fully loaded models on curvy back roads and highways in northern Portugal. This more advanced feel starts as soon as one sits in the driver’s seat, an electric arm extending out the seatbelt from the B-pillar to make it easier to grasp. This is a long-time party trick of Mercedes-Benz two-door models, but more originality points go to Audi’s available ‘virtual cockpit,’ which trades in actual dials for a super high resolution TFT screen that places the navi map in between digital dials, allowing the driver to select among different GPS and display modes. There’s also a new head-up display that ghosts speed, GPS and stereo information onto the windshield in front of you, with the rotary MMI-controller system now touch-sensitive like a tablet as well. Folks who don’t want to spend much time diving into the specifics of the advanced system may still appreciate hard buttons for radio station presets as well as a real volume knob down by the MMI controller, features that are quickly disappearing from other luxury interiors. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available, as will a way to wirelessly charge certain phones, if so equipped. Plus, previously missing luxury features such as a heated steering wheel and ventilated and massaging seats will now be available, as will a way to adjust ambient light patterns in 30 different shades. We spent most of our time in the A5, but the S5’s interior was notable for the full sonic blast of the optional 3D Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker, 755-watt system. Even set to half way its max volume, the rearview mirror shook and bass thumped through our quivering organs. I couldn’t in good conscience push it past three-quarters, even though the sound stayed pinpoint sharp, for fear my driving partner would use the small volume knob next to his knee to cut the sound quickly before delivering a Medusa-worthy death-stare. One annoying aspect of the A5 and S5 had to do with its shifter and automatic parking brake. Though owners would, presumably, get used to the oddly placed Park button located on the lower left of the shifter, the auto-engaging parking brake that doesn’t automatically un-engage when going into Drive quickly becomes tiresome. Increased size, but decreased weight also help dynamics Size-wise, Audi engineers increased both the overall interior and space, the latter now up to 465 litres, with a 40/20/40 rear seat split that allows both rear seats to be occupied and the centre section to still offer a usefully large pass-through for skis or hockey sticks, though bags for either one may be a stretch. That trunk also now offers the ability to rise with a sweep of the foot. Even with its larger size, Audi was able to trim the curb weight by as much as 60 kilograms (132 lb). That’s not a huge decrease, but combined with the more powerful engines, certainly helps in the dynamics department. Full-time all-wheel drive sends 60 percent of the A5 torque’s rearward under most conditions, but can send up to 70 per cent to the front and up to 85 per cent rearward, such as when accelerating hard from a stop. In the S5, a more advanced sport differential can vary torque side to side as well, sending most power to the outside rear wheel, and thus fighting the understeer that sometimes plague safety-oriented all-wheel drive systems. There’s also now a predictive and electronic damping function to the new suspension that reads the car’s various inputs (engine rpm, steering angle, transmission mode, etc.), that promises increased comfort as well as performance, depending on the driver’s mood and the condition of the road ahead. Impressive, but evolutionary In the end, both the A5 and S5 lead to much-needed but not-terribly-ambitious remakes to the popular luxury and performance coupes, respectively. While the S5 is more technically interesting for its new turbocharged V6, its compressor now nestled tightly in between the V6’s cylinders, most of the changes are based on the new Audi A4. This helps its interior convenience and comfort aspects more so than its performance ones. at least so far. Then again, we haven’t seen what Audi has in store for a potential RS 5 model, so the best is likely yet to come. SPECIFICATIONS – 2018 Audi A5 / S5 Coupe BASE PRICE: $44,700 / $57,800 est. (A5 / S5 – 2016 model pricing) ENGINE: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl. / 3.0L turbocharged V6 HORSEPOWER: 252 / 354 TORQUE: 272.9 / 368.8 CONFIGURATION: Front-engine / all-wheel drive TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual clutch automatic / 8-speed Tiptronic automatic DRY WEIGHT (KG): 1,390 / 1,615 FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (NEDC COMB.): 6.3 / 7.4 L/100 km WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: BMW 2-Series / M2, Cadillac ATS/ ATS-V Coupe, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe / C 63 Coupe              Photography by Michael Bettencourt and Audi AG
Lincoln’s turnover of its staid lineup has been chugging along for the past few years with new MKC and MKX crossovers, but it will really pick up steam in the second half of 2016. An all-new Continental sedan is on the way, but it’s not the only new Lincoln bound for dealerships. A refreshed 2017 MKZ mid-size sedan is has just gone on sale with new front-end styling and powertrain updates among other changes, On the powertrain front, the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 replaces the 3.7L V6. The 2.0L EcoBoost 4-cylinder carries over, as does the normally aspirated 2.0L four, which powers the MKZ hybrid. Power output has been increased in both EcoBoost units, slightly (5 hp / 5 lb-ft.) with the 2.0L (245 hp / 275 lb-ft.) and significantly with the 3.0L (400 hp / 400 hp). The latter produces and extra 100 hp and 133 lb-ft. of torque over the outgoing 3.7. The hybrid’s numbers are unchanged at 188 total system horsepower with 129 lb-ft. of torque. The engines are paired with two transmissions, a six-speed automatic goes with the EcoBoost mills and the hybrid comes with a CVT. On the inside, the MKZ sports a redesigned centre stack with buttons and knobs replacing the slide controls of the outgoing model. Other changes include redesigned door panels with new trim materials. The touchscreen infotainment / navigation system, powered by SYNC 3 software operates beautifully and utilizes its unique Lincoln graphics and colour palates. The 2017 MKZ comes in two trims, Select and Reserve for both regular and hybrid models. I sampled two of the three powertrain combinations. Sadly, no V6 models were made available for the press preview. On the road, the MKZ is a quiet and comfortable car to cruise along in. Both models were quiet at highway speed and in city traffic. What surprised a little was how responsive they were to stabs at the throttle. Launches were quite quick but they filled the cabin with buzzy engine noise, which is bit disappointing for a car born out of quiet luxury. One can toggle the modes (comfort, normal and sport) of Lincoln Drive Control, but it doesn’t change the car’s character much. Steering effort, throttle response and suspension damping felt much the same regardless of setting. Might as well just leave it in normal and never touch it again. Besides, fiddling with driving modes and mashing the accelerator seems to be at odds with the MKZ’s nature. This car, and the Lincoln brand generally, is all about taking the road less traveled in comfort and style. SPECIFICATIONS 2017 Lincoln MKZ BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $42,000 / $46,000 ENGINE: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6 HORSEPOWER: 245 hp / 400 hp TORQUE: 275 lb-ft. / 400 lb-ft. DRY WEIGHT: 1,769 kg / 1,901 kg (AWD) CONFIGURATION: front engine, front and all-wheel drive FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 11.8 / 8.4 / 10.3; 14 / 9.2 / 11.8 (V6) WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, Lexus ES Photo by Lee Bailie
The Buick Enclave feels a bit like the forgotten member of the brand’s crossover / SUV lineup. While the compact Encore will get a facelift for 2017 and the mid-size Envision is new to the North American market, consumers will likely have to wait until the 2018 model year for an all-new Enclave. The current gen full-sized Buick SUV, which was last updated in 2013, will soldier on for at least one more year beyond 2016. Despite its age, the Enclave still offers room for seven, a comfortable ride and plenty of premium content (4G LTE Wi-Fi, heated and cooled leather seats, navigation, satellite radio, etc). Available in front and all-wheel drive, the Enclave is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 (288 hp / 270 lb-ft.) mated to six-speed automatic transmission. Power delivery is linear and a flat torque curve (peaking at 3,400 rpm) ensures good off-the-line acceleration. The Enclave may be a bit long in the tooth, but it delivers a compelling luxury package that is competitive with its German and Japanese rivals. SPECIFICATIONS 2016 Buick Enclave AWD Premium BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $49,035 / $58,995 ENGINE: 3.6L V6 HORSEPOWER: 288 hp @ 6,300 rpm TORQUE: 270 lb-ft. @ 3,400 rpm DRY WEIGHT: 2,930 kg CONFIGURATION: front engine, all-wheel drive FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 16.1 / 10.8 / 13.7 WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: Acura MDX, Dodge Durango, Infiniti QX60, Mazda CX-9
Here is our list of 5 (Five) Best and Worst Things About The Upcoming 2018 Audi A5 Coupe. BEST 1) Slippery style: Super refined but sporty style, with aerodynamics honed down to a slippery 0.25 coefficient of drag by Ottawa-born aerodynamicist Dr. Moni Islam, who holds degrees from Concordia in Montreal and the University of Toronto. 2) Whisper quiet: Also helped by those sleek aerodynamics, as well as the platform it shares with the A4 and pricier Q7, the A5 is whisper quiet and hugely refined when cruising at highway speeds, and even extra-legal highway speeds. 3) Power healthy for “base” model: Major power boost from the redone turbocharged 252 hp four-cylinder engine, as on the A4 sedan, with a healthy 293 lb-ft of torque, standard paddle shifters and quattro all-wheel drive that combine to power it to 100km/h in a claimed but believable 5.8 seconds. 4) Kicking sound: a brief burst to what I thought must be nearing full blast of the optional 3D Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker, 755-watt system was barely up to half way. Even though I warned my co-driver of the audio test, I couldn’t in good conscience push it past three-quarters, even though the sound was still pinpoint sharp. 5) Virtual wow factor: Audi’s flashy virtual cockpit is now available here, which first debuted on the TT, which trades in analog gauges for a super high resolution screen that uniquely bleeds the navigation system across much of the space in front of the driver. Worst 1) Too similar-looking for some: a quick poll of attendees at the launch had a few thinking it looked a bit too much like the outgoing version, especially with the similar-looking five-spoke wheels on some test models – with a hint of ’17 Ford Fusion in its headlights especially. 2) Still tiny back seat: even with 23 more millimetres (0.9 inch) of knee room in the back, the plus-two seats back there are still very tight, and made slightly tougher to access with the automatically extending and retracting seatbelt arms, as Mercedes-Benz has used for a while on its big two-doors. 3) Lack of engine choice: the A5 will arrive with one turbo 2.0-litre four, and that’s it; though the sportier S5 benefits from an all-new turbocharged V6 engine, A5 drivers in North America won’t be offered any of the other four engines available in Europe (three diesels, one other gas). A plug-in offering would be a great option here. 4) Parking pain: Though A5 drivers would (likely) get used to the oddly placed Park button located on the lower left of the shifter, the auto-engaging parking brake that doesn’t automatically un-engage when going into Drive had multiple drivers cursing the combo of the two, even by the end of our half-day preview drive. 5) ‘Diesel-gate’ collateral damage? Though the emissions control defeat device scandal is most closely associated with parent company Volkswagen, Audi may still have a trust issue with consumers not impressed with the brand heavily pushing ‘clean diesels’ that were found to be anything but, and removed from the market for 2016 by government regulators in both Canada and the U.S.
There are many forms of racing and all have their merits and challenges, but where does someone start when they do not have the experience or a limited budget to compete? The Ontario Time Attack (OTA for short, and previously known as SOLO 1) is a grassroots discipline that has been established since 1980 as an affordable alternative and stepping stone to other forms of racing. Here is a comparison of OTA and other racing disciplines:  ONTARIO TIME ATTACK OTHER NON-CASC FORMS OF RACING Use your daily driver to compete in most cases. Need to have a series specified and dedicated car, which is not “streetable” and requires tow vehicle and trailer. Safety equipment minimum is an approved helmet and factory safety belts. Usually a roll cage is required with safety 4- or 5-point harness and, consequently, a neck restraint required with approved helmet. Race “solo” like you’re qualifying for pole position in every race. You race with others sharing the track with the chance of making contact with other competitors with your car. Choose up to 6 events and 2 schools. Usually you must compete in a minimum number of races to maintain your involvement in the series. Affordable drivers education dovetailed into the race events. Driver education is not usually run in conjunction with the race schedule, and costs usually are over $1,000 plus. You decide which modifications you want to make. A performance index ensures you’re fairly matched with similar competitor groups. Modifications are usually standardized which can result in large expenditure to make your car competitive. Usually the teams who can maximize expenditure on the cars can lead the race. All the events are close to the GTA and scheduled on weekends. Many of these races are either out of province and/or have Friday test and tech days. Our drivers are competitive but are more than ready to assist novice drivers in both mechanical and driving skills. Drivers are often overly competitive and rarely share experiences to help you become a better driver. We offer lots of track time to practice your skills and also compete. Track time can be very limited. We hire professional racetrack marshals and safety crews to keep our drivers safe. Professional racetrack marshals and safety crews keep drivers safe. You win awards and get satisfaction developing and honing your driving skills. Win awards and develop your driving skills in a highly-competitive environment. We are a volunteer-run organization and depend on fellow competitors to run a safe event while maintaining the cost of racing to a minimum. We are a volunteer-run organization and depend on fellow competitors to run a safe event while maintaining the cost of racing to a minimum. 2016 MOBIL 1 ONTARIO TIME ATTACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIESPresented by JRP, Toyo Tires & Yokohama Tire  SCHEDULE TRACK DATE HOST CLUB LOCATION DDC May 14 OMSC 1 hour East of GTA TMP  June 4 TAC 1 hour South of Hamilton CTMP June 25 SPDA 1 hour East of GTA CTMP June 26 SPDA 1 hour East of GTA DDC July 9 OMSC 1 hour East of GTA DDC July 10 OMSC 1 hour East of GTA SMP August 20 SPDA 2 hours East of GTA SMP August 21 TAC 2 hours East of GTA LEGEND TRACKS   CTMP Canadian Tire Motorsport Park DDC CTMP Driver Development Centre SMP Shannonville Motorsports Park TMP Toronto Motorsports Park CLUBS   SPDA SPDA Motorsport Club (spda-online.ca) OMSC Oshawa Motorsport Club (oshawamotorsportclub.com) TAC Toronto Autosport Club (torontoautosportclub.ca/tac-solosprint.html) Can’t wait to get started? Contact Gerry at gerrcar@gmail.com or phone/text him at 416-505-9559.
Jen Horsey in her first national event in the race car she bought built. The best racing advice I ever got was to buy built. It sounds counterintuitive – especially to the mechanically inclined who imagine weekends in the shop with friends when they daydream about starting a team. But if you survey a driver’s meeting in just about any discipline, you’ll find experienced racers generally agree on this point: for your first race car, don’t build it. Buy built. My very first race car was a 1993 Mazda 323 rally car (pictured) originally built and maintained by the capable team at Four Star Motorsports in Georgetown, Ontario. It was a straightforward build with a few aftermarket parts, reinforcement where it needed it, and safety gear to the rules of the day. It came with a log book guaranteeing it was race legal in its class, and a well-developed spares package. I loved that car: it was well-sorted and dead reliable. Somebody else had done the development work on it, so any DNFs on my early career record were due to operator error, rather than of the mechanical variety. So in my first season, I got to learn a lot, including what I wanted in a race car. When I bought the Mazda, I would have told you that what it needed was a ton more power, a racier gearbox and a new paint job. When I sold it, I knew I wanted my next ride to have a modified pedal set-up that was more conducive to left-foot braking, different seats installed a little lower and on a better angle for weight balance as well as my comfort and visibility, a better handbrake set-up, and a suspension upgrade. Nowhere on the list were the power or gearbox upgrades I thought it needed because once I started racing, my priorities completely changed. (I repainted the car when I crashed it badly enough to need to replace some panels – the first time). After that, I built. And I discovered first-hand that it is usually not a fun experience to fight through a season with a new car. I experienced no shortage of what we in the biz like call “teething troubles.” Think it won’t happen to you? They’re almost inevitable. Look up your favourite team’s first season results and you’ll see the telltale pattern of new-car woes: DNFs, inconsistent lap times, and flashes of brilliance marred by gutting disappointment. Better still: Google “teething trouble” and “motorsport.” Formula One’s McLaren-Honda’s 2015 season to forget is only the first result to come up in a long, long list. The best way to learn and grow as a driver when you’re new to motorsport is to maximize your time racing and minimize your time in the garage. A sorted-out build is critical to your success. But that’s not the only reason to buy built. A driver I used to work with was fond of saying that you had to hate your car a little bit to put it through the abuse it sees in competition. And if you fall in love with every rivet while you’re building it, you might discover that driving it becomes a little less fun. The last thing you want to be thinking about as you’re throttle down and working on a last-corner pass for the lead is how much work it’s going to be to fix the crash damage. But once you decide to buy built, how do you avoid a lemon? There are no CarProof vehicle history reports for race cars, of course, but you’ll find the paddock grapevine is just as accurate – if not more so. There are few off-the-books wrecks in racing. Ask around and people will be happy to tell you what they know. A vehicle’s build history is important – that will tell you how sturdy its fundamentals are – but when you’re buying built you also need to know a car’s racing record and service history. The longer it’s been since the builders had it, the more important the service reference. Officials, competitors and team mechanics will all have an opinion on a given car, and if you’re hearing a mostly positive slate of reviews, then you’re in business. And for the mechanically inclined among you, never fear: if there is one guarantee for a grassroots racer, it’s that you will spend plenty of time working on your car. It’s been seven or so years since I sold my dear old Mazda, but each time it has come up for sale, somebody has tagged me on Facebook or sent me the listing. It was blue the last time I saw it in person. It’s yellow now. And it’s been crashed and fixed and modified enough times since I’ve owned it that I’ve lost track of its condition and wouldn’t be able to give a reference on it anymore. But the people who know it from recent track days and races sure can. And that’s true for just about every race car on the market. Once you let it be known that you could be a buyer, you’ll have no trouble finding your next weekend warrior.
Always wanted to go car racing, but didn’t know what or where to race? This year, the Western Canada Motorsport Association (WCMA) has made it even easier to “race what you’ve got.” For two of our classes, we have adopted National Auto Sports Association (NASA) Performance Touring (PT) and Super Touring (ST) rules. The PT class is for cars with greater than 10.5 pounds per horsepower, and ST for cars that have less than 10.5 pounds per horsepower. This means you don’t need a highly-modified car to race in a competitive class. You add a roll cage and safety equipment to whatever car you want to race, plug your car and modifications into the PT class calculator spreadsheet, and you will be placed in a competitive class for the level of modification of your car. The WCMA will be holding two race licensing schools this spring: April 30-May 1 at Castrol Raceway in Leduc, Alberta, and May 7-8 at Gimli in Manitoba. Each school provides two days of instructor-driven track instruction for a fraction of the cost of taking a professional racing school. And the FIA licensing obtained at these schools will allow you to race anywhere in the world through our FIA affiliation. The WCMA has many other classes to race in as well, including Open Wheel Formulas, Challenge Car for early RX7s, and Spec Miata for 1989-2005 cars. The Spec Miata field reached 17 cars last year at Castrol, which was the largest field for a club level race in North America. Four race dates are scheduled at Castrol Raceway Leduc and five race dates are confirmed at Gimli Manitoba in 2016. As well, tow funds are available for selected racers traveling to away races in B.C. and the Prairies. Not ready to hit the track this year? The WCMA’s 17 affiliated clubs have autoslalom events where you can race your street car against the clock on some exciting venues, such as the Fort Macleod Airport runway and portions of Castrol Raceway. Participation in these events can start you off on a graduated progression to get your race licence and hit the big tracks! So, if you’ve been thinking about racing in Alberta and/or Manitoba and didn’t know where to start, think about the WCMA! Visit our website for details on events and registration for the upcoming summer racing season.
The Confederation of Autosport Car Clubs (CACC) holds motorsports events all year long on the west coast. In the winter months, a very dedicated group of racers look forward to the freezing weather and the trek up the Fraser Canyon to Barnes Lake for a season of ice racing. Unfortunately, the track is dependent on how cold it is and how much ice is on the lake. If it isn’t cold enough that means no ice. No ice means no track. No track means no racing. While there’s still some time for things to turn around, this winter’s warm weather saw things get off to a slow start, with only a single icecross having been run on the lake as of this writing. Fortunately, the weather in the Greater Vancouver area and in Victoria on Vancouver Island affords us the opportunity to run slalom events year round, with only a short break over the Christmas holidays. Check the CACC web site for a listing of clubs that organize slalom events throughout B.C. during the year. The CACC will have a booth at the Vancouver International Auto Show again this year (March 23-27), which always attracts lots of enthusiastic spectators. This usually brings new people out to our events, and we invite you to come out and learn more about our organization. Both the Victoria Motorsports Club (VMSC) and the Sports Car Club of British Columbia (SCCBC) will also be hosting their annual Race Driver Training Events in March, too. The VMSC will hold its school on March 26-27 in Victoria while the SCCBC will hold its on March 13-19- 20. These schools are for people wanting to go wheel-to-wheel racing as well as those who want to learn better car control. Spots fill up early and fast. The 2016 CACC race schedule is set for the events at Mission Raceway Park’s road course, with the first race weekend set for April 16-17 with a practice day on Friday the 15th. It will be a full field of cars with racing for novices on Saturday, and full grids of open- and closed-wheel cars both days. Plus, there will be a time attack on Saturday, with Sunday set aside for racing Vintage cars. The full schedule is on www.sccbc.net. Time attackers are also looking forward to the Annual Knox Mountain Hillclimb, which takes place on the Victoria Day long weekend in Kelowna, BC this year. This long-standing event continues to be the only sanctioned hillclimb in Canada, and draws entries from all over western Canada and the U.S. The vintage racing discipline will be holding races on all regular CACC race weekends, but The British Columbia Historic Motor Races standalone race weekend will take place on August 19-21. This event always features a great display of old race cars doing what they were built to do – RACE! – as well as a superb car corral with lots of old cars to check out. There is a fun social atmosphere at the Saturday night banquet – a must attend event – so what are you waiting for? Before signing off, the CACC wants to congratulate Rick Payne of Mission, BC, who took his Van Dieman RF99 Honda from 10th on the grid to victory at the 2015 Formula F Championship during the SCCA Runoffs in Daytona Beach, Florida in September. Well done Rick! The CACC is looking forward to another great season in all of our different facets of motorsport. And we invite you to come out and join us. Check our web site www.CACCautosport.org to find contacts for our affiliate clubs.
Truro, Nova Scotia – Here we are again, two months into 2016 and it is looking like a repeat of the winter of 2015, albeit with less snow and crazy temperature shifts so far. With most of the club and region annual general meetings over, it’s time to start getting down to the business of preparing race cars and karts for the start of competition in May. Hopefully, Santa was good to everyone this year and brought all kinds of go-fast goodies because it’s time to turn up the heat in the garage, forget about the snow outside and get those parts installed and everything tuned up. After all, in less than three months, ARMS members will get their first chance to drive the new improvements at Atlantic Motorsport Park (AMP), the kart track at Scotia Speed World (SSW) or even a parking lot nearer to you for some autoslalom fun. I’m not saying you should stay inside on weekends for the rest of this winter, but it won’t be long now. Returning for its 14th year, the Bluenose Autosport Club RallyCross Challenge has been in full swing since November though, with events split between AMP near Shubenacadie, NS and SSW near the Halifax International Airport. Turn-outs have been great this season with a high of 46 competitors so far. No frost in the ground has made for some very interesting, very mucky courses, and there is still some fun to be had. For more info and upcoming dates visit www.BluenoseAutosport.ca. The Moncton Motor Sport Club and Fredericton Motorsports Club are each planning to hold two AutoCross events at some point over the winter. These events will most likely be at Magic Mountain in Moncton, NB and Speedway 660 in Geary, NB, and are very much weather dependent. For further info on these events be sure to visit www.MMSC.ca and www.FrederictonMotorsportsClub.ca. AutoCross and RallyCross are great ways to learn better car control in less-than-ideal conditions and, for those willing to venture out into the crazy winter weather, it’s a great way to get the thrill in a low cost, controlled and fun atmosphere. Conditions range from sunny and cold to rain and snow on surfaces ranging from bare ground to snow covered and shear ice. ARMS calendar of 2016 events at www.ARMSinc.ca including all Regional Championships in Race, Rally, AutoSlalom and Time Attack. • Race has a five-event Regional Race Championship, known as the TRAC Championships with info available at www.TRACracing.ca and the Jack Canfield Memorial 3-Hour Enduro Race. • Navigational Rally Championships for both Novice and Experienced drivers and navigators. • Time Attack has a three-day Championship event planned for early October. • AutoSlalom has an eight-event series at various locations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The various ARMS member clubs all have their own championships as well. More detailed event info is available on the ARMS forum and club web sites. It’s looking like 2016 will be a great year for motorsports in Atlantic Canada! We’ll see you at the track! ARMS, TRACTwitter Facebook
Driving the new C 63 AMG S coupe is an exercise in restraint. I suspect that owning one, then, will be that and many more things. The car’s purpose is simple. To be the best C-Class ever. And it just might be. Along with its sedan counterpart, the C 63s are head and shoulders above the rest. Poised atop the best-selling luxury car line in Canada, Mercedes-AMG’s latest performance coupe gets the same hand-built AMG 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 that comes in the C 63 sedan launched last spring. With 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 4,750 rpm, the S model has 34 more horsepower and 37 lb-ft than the non-S model, and is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h in under four seconds. And while the rest of the C-Class lineup gets a very democratic 4MATIC all-wheel drive system and less powerful engines, only the AMGs are rear-wheel driven. As part of the fifth-generation C-Class (W205), which dates back to the Mercedes-Benz 190 (W201) range that reigned from 1982 to 1993, the range-topping C 63 AMG sedan and coupe models truly benefit from the winning ways of the Mercedes-AMG teams in Formula One, DTM and other series. I’ve now driven both the sedan and the coupe, and each is fitted with AMG’s Speed-shift sports transmission that slices through seven forward gears with divine purpose and finesse. Each also gets Eco start/stop and a Dynamic Select system to choose one of six driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual) that can change their demeanours from mild to wild to bat-s!#t crazy. While I was taken aback by the mega speed and handling abilities of the C 63 S sedan on Portugal’s big and fast Portimão Circuit, the back end did tend to get pretty unstable under hard-braking at the end of the long straights. The newer C 63 S coupe does not do this at all, and it’s because of several improvements that Mercedes-AMG has made to what is essentially a totally different car. The electronically-controlled mechanical rear-axle limited slip differential is a key factor here, but it isn’t alone. Compared to the base C-Class coupe (the C 300 coupe was at the launch, but I didn’t drive it), the AMG version shares only the doors, roof and trunk lid. The remaining body panels are AMG specific, and necessary to provide more substance rather than aesthetics. The wide rear fenders, for example, add 33 mm to each side (2.6 inches total) to accommodate the limited-slip differential, as well as a rear axle that is 46 mm wider. Likewise, the front fenders widen the car by 24 mm per side (1.89 inches total) so that larger wheels and tires will fit in the front and back, respectively. The coupe is 15 mm lower than its sedan counterpart, and the rear axle and LSD are both new compared to the C 63 S sedan. I should also point out the LSD in the non-S model is not electronically-controlled, and thus not as sensitive. The combination of the C 63 S’s lower centre of gravity, wider track width, larger contact patch, improved front and rear downforce (0.01 and 0.05 per cent, respectively), the AMG ride control suspension (and tuning) and other AMG tweaks make for a car that drives silky smooth at the limit. That it looks even better than the sedan is mere happenstance. Like the sedan press launch, the C 63 coupe launch featured gorgeous on-road drive routes as well as track driving, the latter under the guidance of Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador and factory test driver Bernd Schneider. And instead of Portimão, I find myself chasing down the five-time DTM champ on the incredible Circuito Ascari in southern Spain – the 5.425-km long, 26-turn full track that combines the best corners from many of the world’s most famous racetracks. In Portugal, Schneider drove the same car as everyone else. In Spain, however, the mouse is behind the wheel of the AMG GT S, while all the cats are driving C 63 S coupes. That said, I felt so much more confident driving said coupe that I was actually able to stay closer to “The Man” (that’s how our Canadian PR rep refers to him). Compared to the AMG sedan, the coupe is more stable under heavy braking and faster all around. There’s virtually no body roll, and it doesn’t understeer whatsoever – thanks in part to the dynamic engine mounts it shares with the AMG GT. What nervousness I had on my first lap was already gone by lap two, and I managed to click off 20 this time around, including a private session with just the two of us on track that saw me clock a respectable best time of 2:38.33. Mercedes has made great strides with its driver interfaces and usability in all its models, this being no exception. I won’t go on and on with specifics, but will say that it’s perhaps the nicest interior they make. The C 300 4MATIC coupe will begin arriving in Canadian dealerships in March with a $48,100 MSRP, and it’s a one of the best compact luxury cars in Canada. The same can be said on the on the luxury performance side with respect to the C 63 coupe models, though pricing won’t be released until April and the car won’t go into production until June. It will arrive in our showrooms sometime in July however. That is, if they even make it to showrooms. If you are at all interested don’t wait for them to get here because they will go fast – literally and figuratively. The thing about this car is that you’ll find yourself resisting many urges in your daily commute, but if you’re looking for a dual-duty high-performance luxury car to also take to the track, this is one that should be seriously considered. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S sedan has already been named AJAC’s Best New Sports Performance Car for 2016. The coupe will be eligible to win it next year. And I think it will. BY THE NUMBERS | $164 /HP (CALCULATED W/ EST. BASE MSRP) | 125.75 HP/L | 264.53 HP/TON | 3.43 KG/HP | 8.9 L/100 KM (NEDC – COMBINED) SPECIFICATIONS 2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé BASE PRICE: $82,500 (estimate only) ENGINE: AMG 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 HORSEPOWER: 503 hp @ 5,500-6,250 rpm (SAE) TORQUE: 516 lb-ft @ 4,750 rpm CONFIGURATION: Front-engine / rear-wheel drive TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual clutch automatic DRY WEIGHT: 1,725 kg FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (NEDC COMB.): 8.9 L/100 km WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: Audi S5, BMW M2/4, Cadillac ATS-V Coupe, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Jaguar F-Type R, Lexus RC F NOTABLE OPTIONS: PREMIUM PACKAGE - Parktronic w/ active parking assist, COMAND online navi w/ MB Apps, Burmester surround system, Keyless-Go; INTELLIGENT DRIVE PACKAGE ($TBA) - Distronic Plus, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, CMS rear, BMS Plus w Cross Traffic Assist, Pre-Safe Brake, Advanced Driving Assistance package; PREMIUM REAR SEATING PACKAGE - rear window sunshade, Thermotronic automatic climate control; metallic paint; designo upholstery; head-up display; passive lane keeping assist; power trunk closer; air balance package; 19-in. AMG 5-spoke wheels; AMG performance seat; AMG carbon ceramic brakes.
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Who holds the world’s closed course record? A.J. Foyt

On May 13, Bill Elliot got behind the wheel of a hopped up Mustang in an attempt to set some kind of lap record speed at Talladega. The publicity surrounding this stunt was just another chapter in the sad history of unwarranted claims surrounding “closed course” speed records.

This car had already been taken to Bonneville in an attempt to record an official speed there. Apparently, the car ran one way at over 252 mph but it failed to make the mandatory return run and, hence no official speed was established for the car at Bonneville.

Now the car was reconfigured so that it could run at speed at the Talladega Superspeedway. The press release said that they “would attempt to break the 22-year-old NASCAR speed record held by Bill Elliott. Elliott himself will pilot Hajek’s E-85 Mustang FR500C, which has been reconfigured to NASCAR specs, at Talladega in an attempt to break his 212.089 mph qualifying lap from 1987 at the same track. FIA officials will be on site to verify the attempt and to validate the record.”

The claim that Elliott was going to set some new “NASCAR speed record” has to ber patent nonsense. The only way Elliott could set a new NASCAR record would be if he were to run a NASCAR-legal race car in an official NASCAR event – like he did back in 1987. This Mustang running in a private test session met none of these criteria. What the FIA officials were going to validate is a mystery to me – they wold be limited to verifying the speed that was recorded – since there seems to be no kind of FIA record that Elliott could set.

Already, Elliott’s NASCAR record had been bettered here by a NASCAR driver in a NASCAR race car. On June 10, 2004 Rusty Wallace, driving a Penske Dodge race car without the NASCAR-mandated restrictor plate, set a 216 mph lap. Faster than Elliott’s record but it did not meet the requirements to make it a NASCAR lap – even though NASCAR officials were there and they certified the lap speed..

Anyway, this latest publicity stunt ended badly. Elliott went out for a few practice laps and a tire failed sending the car into the wall. Any thoughts of setting speed records are now on hold.

Is there such a thing as an official “closed course record”. Actually the FIA rules has such a category in its regulations but I can’t find any reference to a closed course record in their lists of world speed records. I think any claims to “closed course records’ have to be considered as unofficial – even if the speed has been recorded by an FIA approved authority. (Since I am making the point here that many “closed course record” speed claims are erroneous in some way or other – I should acknowledge that my assertions may be flawed as well even though I believe they are correct.)

Back in the late ‘90s a number of very fast qualifying records were set in the CART series, first at Michigan International Speedway and later at the California Speedway at Fontana. The fastest of these lap records – 241.428 mph – was set by Gil de Ferran at Fontana in 2000. Sloppy journalists and publicists tend to refer to these speed records as “closed course records” without qualification. Actually higher closed course lap speeds had been recorded long before this. These CART speeds stand as record race qualifying lap speeds – and, as such, de Ferran’s lap speed is remarkable.

Going back to Talladega, in 1975, Mark Donahue drove the Can-Am Porsche 917/30 to a lap speed of 221.160 – a true “closed course record”. That’s faster than Wallace’s speed and I believe it still stands as the fastest lap recorded at Talladega. If Elliott wants to set some kind of record with his Mustang, that’s what he should be shooting for.

Mercedes-Benz had an experimental sports car project called the C-III with which they preformed many high speed runs at Nardo, a 7.8-mile circuit in southern Italy. The CIII-IV version was built to beat Donahue’s record and it succeeded, setting a new record lap speed of 250.918 mph in May 1979. Note that this was twenty years before de Ferran set his 241 mph qualifying lap record at Fontana.

But a four-cylinder Olds engine mounted in the rear of a streamlined Indy car chassis went even faster; propelling A.J. Foyt to the current closed course record. Running on the 7.7-mile Firestone test track at Fort Stockton, Texas, he recorded a 257.123 mph lap speed. To the best of my knowledge this still stands as the fastest ever lap run on a closed course. I suspect that this “record” is unofficial for lack of the required FIA supervision of the record run.

Good luck to Bill Elliott. I hope that he betters his old 212 mph at Talladega. I even hope that he beats Donahue’s 221 mph Talladega lap record. But, please, no more talk of him setting some kind of “closed course record” NASCAR-style or not.

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