The Drivers Edge (TDE) hosted the first-ever High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE) event at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) Formula 1 racetrack this weekend. 140 drivers and 45 instructors spread across 5 separate run groups (by skill and experience level) greatly enjoyed their 2 days on the circuit.
Needless to say, being on the finest racetrack anywhere in the Americas made for a fabulous and unforgettable weekend. The event was simply excellent: TDE did a thoroughly professional job of running the event (as always) and COTA was simply a fantastic host. We were surprised and impressed by the sheer number of COTA personnel on hand for the event. This included the entire track safety crew; fully staffed track control center; fire, ambulance crews and wreckers (unneeded); flaggers, security; gate management; and even a large staff of restaurant and concession workers. These were the same people who had pulled off the tremendously successful Formula 1 event here last November… and we benefitted from the same level of service and support this weekend. Our only disappointment (besides a dud Go Pro) was that track Ambassador Mario Andretti wasn’t present!
As the following TV news report discusses, the event almost wasn’t able to be held. But the reason wasn’t a mysterious drama as the news reports imply, it was simply the unfamiliar track officials negotiating an event that fit into their technical, safety and procedural requirements, as well as their own business plan. And coming to understand how such events are run. The Drivers Edge is the best group we’ve ever seen in our 33 years of doing this type of event, and we’re proud to be an Instructor with them over the past 15 years. And now that COTA officials and owners have seen how professional and experienced this particular group is, we should be invited back again.
Coverage from our local TV station KXAN is here: http://www.kxan.com//dpp/news/local/austin/kxan-amateurs-test-drive-on-cota-track-ig, including the following video:
We’d guess whomever wrote this TV report wasn’t a driving enthusiast or even knowledgeable about these types of events. We’d hardly call ourselves “amateurs”: most of the drivers have been doing this for many years and many the instructors are professional race car drivers or at the very least have several years of experience doing just this as well as a demonstrated ability to teach and an exacting knowledge of the dynamics of car control at speed. HPDE events are non-competitive and are not timed: the sole purpose is skill building.
The Drivers Edge was privileged to be able to use the full 3.41 mile track, with designated (and generous) passing zones. As in our original prediction for the Formula 1 race, we expected the 130 foot climb into turn 1 to be the biggest challenge… but it wasn’t in F1 and it wasn’t here either. It is a signature turn of the track, very distinction and great fun. As is, for example, the run up the much bigger hill at Watkins Glen. But there is so much more and that’s what makes this (and the Glen) such a fabulous track. COTA is clearly world-class in every respect.
Turns 3-5 were straightforward, but the decreasing spacing from turns 5 thru 9 were challenging. The back straight between turns 11 and 12 was a straightforward <130 MPH. Turns 12 thru 17 were especially challenging (11, 12, and 15 being very sharp) and we’ll be focusing closely on those next time out. Turn 18 was obvious as soon as you saw how it exits, as were turns 19-20. Note that in the map below, the speeds given are for F1 cars – compared to what we did this weekend those much higher speeds are truly (as they say) “the laps of the gods”. It’s beyond our mortal understanding. But it does illustrate the speed differentials which we also had to learn.
We’ll post our own image gallery once we recover from the uncharacteristically (for Texas in January) cold and wet weather. Readers will undoubtedly find numerous other images from other Instructors and attendees, and should also follow the official Facebook page of The Drivers Edge.
Another feather in the cap for Ford’s EcoBoost engineers. Their 1.0 liter 3 cylinder EcoBoost engine left supercars in its dust at the famed Nurburgring circuit.
Ford Press Release follows:
Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost Powered Race Car Leaves Supercars in its Wake at Famed Nürburgring Circuit
- A unique Formula Ford race car powered by Ford’s tiny 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine produces a supercar-beating performance at the legendary Nürburgring track in Germany
- Unique road-legal racer records the 11th fastest lap ever at the Nürburgring’s famed Nordschleife circuit – 7 minutes, 22 seconds – higher on the list than such 600+ horsepower supercars as the Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari Enzo and the Pagani Zonda
- 1.0-litre EcoBoost-powered Formula Ford boasts an unofficial top speed of 255.5 km/h (158.8 mph) and a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of less than four seconds
- Fuel economy is equally eye-popping: unofficially 2.4 l/100 km (118 mpg) at 56 km/h (35 mph), and 5 l/100 km (57 mpg) at 120 km/h (75 mph)
- The three-cylinder Ford 1.0-litre EcoBoost was recently named 2012 “International Engine of the Year”. The turbocharged, direction injection petrol engine is now available in the Ford Focus and coming soon in the B-MAX, new Fiesta and C-MAX
COLOGNE, Germany, Sept. 4, 2012
– Ford’s tiny but feisty 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is the reason why a unique road-going Formula Ford race car has scored one of the fastest lap times ever at Germany’s famed Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.
The one-of a-kind, road-legal version of the latest Formula Ford single-seat racer completed the lap in 7 minutes, 22 seconds to register the 11th fastest time ever on the circuit – a performance that puts it ahead of a host of supercars including the 600+ horsepower Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari Enzo and Pagani Zonda.
“This little engine has people rubbing their eyes in disbelief,” said racing driver and course specialist Nick Tandy, 28, who completed the drive. “It’s simply astonishing that a 3-cylinder, one-litre engine can deliver that kind of performance.”
Ford engineers have led several months of work on the project to switch the Formula Ford’s usual 180 PS,1.6-litre EcoBoost power unit with a specially tuned 205 PS version of the company’s new global 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, which was recently named “International Engine of the Year”.
The project team also modified the vehicle so it would be fully street legal for on-road use by fitting it with wheel covers, front and rear lights and indicators, aerodynamically designed wing mirrors and a horn. The car is fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox and was driven on road-legal tyres.
The car’s unofficial top speed is expected to be 255.5 km/h (158.8 mph) with a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of less than four seconds. The vehicle completed the 20.832 km (12.94 mile) Nordschleife circuit at an average speed of 169 km/h (105 mph).
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost powered Formula Ford car beat previously recorded fastest times of many supercars including the 700 horsepower Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, the 660 horsepower Ferrari Enzo and the 602 horsepower Pagani Zonda. No other three- or even four-cylinder car has posted a faster time at the legendary circuit.
“We wanted to prove that size doesn’t matter by showing everyone what an amazingly capable engine we have developed in the 1.0-litre EcoBoost,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president of Marketing and Sales, Ford of Europe. “What better way than by beating some of the best supercars in the world on the Nordschleife, while using a fraction of the fuel.”
In-house testing also showed the 1.0-litre EcoBoost-powered Formula Ford is capable of extremely frugal fuel economy, delivering 2.4 l/100 km (118 mpg) at 56 km/h (35 mph), and 5 l/100 km (57 mpg) at 120 km/h (75 mph).
While the 1.0-litre EcoBoost-powered Formula Ford car isn’t available to buy, the Ford Focus equipped with this engine is already proving a success with customers around Europe. About 30 percent of new Focus buyers in recent months have opted for the 1.0-litre EcoBoost.
In the Focus, the 100 PS version 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine delivers 4.8 l/100 km (58.9 mpg), and the 125 PS model achieves 5 l/100 km (56.5 mpg).* The engine also will be available in the all-new Ford B-MAX, and C-MAX as well as the redesigned new Ford Fiesta coming later in 2012.
Earlier this year, a Ford Focus equipped with the 125 PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost set 16 Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) speed world records at the CERAM test circuit in France.**
# # #
* All fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures in g/km are from officially approved tests in accordance with EC Directive 93/116/EC. Fuel economy figures quoted are based on the European Fuel Economy Directive EU 80/1268/EEC and will differ from fuel economy drive cycle results in other regions of the world
** All records are subject to Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) homologation in Category B (series production cars), Group 1 (4-stroke engine), Class 5 (with engines of between 850-1000cc)
# # #
About Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 168,000 employees and about 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com/.
Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 51 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.
So you’ve spent the big bucks restoring an original 1964 Holman-Moody Fairlane 500 to Grand National specs. Where better to take the ultimate American stock car but to conquer the ultimate German racetrack? The Nurburgring, of course. Turn up your speakers, go full screen – and note the speed!
Things have certainly changed for the better at the ‘ring. Back in the day, in the actual 60s, a track day at the Nurburgring meant all sorts of flying pedestrians, bad driving, rollovers. If you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t seen this original footage:
30 years ago, June 18-20 1982, Ford debuted the Mustang SVO to the world in the form of two engineering prototypes competing in a 24-hour endurance race: the Quaker State Oil Longest Day of Nelson. This SCCA-sanctioned race, held at the well-known (and very humble) club race track Nelson Ledges in Ohio, isn’t with us anymore but was well-known and beloved in its time. The event offered classes for what at the time was known as Showroom Stock cars, as well as future production prototypes, to race.
The SCCA Showroom Stock class in those days was just that: cars that were literally straight from the showroom, with only safety equipment added. Race tires were not available in those days, so whatever street tire came in the stock size would have to be used. Ford Pintos were very popular then because of their crisp handling and easy availability of replacement parts. We personally knew one racer who leased his from a local dealer and had several crashes over the years.
The Prototype class was something new to the SCCA, and it was controversial both inside the SCCA as well as outside. The intent was to generate excitement by allowing manufacturers to bring a prototype of a car that would be built within the next two years. It wasn’t intended for high-end or exotica, but for future versions of cars already racing in Showroom Stock. The Corvette wasn’t allowed into the event until 1985, and even then only under pressure from GM, but the Mustang was the perfect fit since it has already been racing in Showroom Stock since 1979. Racing would indeed improve the breed.
Ford brought two prototypes to the event with the idea of fast-tracking their development under the stress of racing, as well as to show the public the direction that the Mustang was taking. And to ensure that good publicity was spread far and wide, Ford arranged for Car and Driver and Road & Track to each have their own identical car. The magazines selected their drivers from amongst their own staff, which resulted in a mixed bag of skillsets. Road & Track had Innes Ireland, for example, and there was no question of the skill there. Each magazine also brought nearly their entire staff to crew their pits, cook for everyone, and cheer on their (hopefully) winning team.
And we were there ourselves, working as an SCCA-licensed Pit Marshall. That meant that we were working in the pits, right in front of the Mustang SVOs, and saw everything. We also got to meet our favorite writers from both magazines. What an incredible weekend! Read more
Read more in the Austin American Statesman: http://www.statesman.com/sports/american-le-mans-series-coming-to-circuit-of-2387257.html
If you can’t join the quarter million fans camping out at the Nurburgring to watch the ADAC Zurich 24h Race in person, you can still watch it live via internet streaming here: http://www.24h-rennen.de/LIVE.94.0.html.
Sadly, there are only two S2000s this year, a single 370Z, and two GT-Rs. We’d like to see more of our favorite cars. Read the final list of entrants here.
Gazoo Racing brought a pair of Toyota 86s and an Lexus LFA to the event. Gazoo is staffed by Toyota employees with a passion for racing and an interest in gaining first-hand technical experience under the most demanding circumstances with the products they work on. Two more Toyota 86s were entered by Toyota Swiss Racing team.
Toyota Press Release follows:
GAZOO Racing, Toyota GT86 and Lexus LFA set to take on the Nürburgring 16/05/2012
- Four Toyota GT86 and one Lexus LFA set to take part in this year’s 24 Hours Nürburgring race from May 17 to May 20
- GAZOO Racing Lexus LFA and Toyota GT86 driven by employees to hone technical skills and craftsmanship
- Toyota Swiss Racing Team enters two Toyota GT86 vehicles race prepared by Toyota Motorsport GmbH
The 40th edition of the ADAC 24 Hours Nürburgring race this year will be the sixth time for Japan-based GAZOO Racing Team at the world-famous German circuit. Through the team’s various racing activities, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) aims to make ever-better cars by putting its products and people through the challenges such as the endurance race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, with each lap exceeding 25 kilometres.
GAZOO Racing personnel – including drivers and mechanics – are comprised of TMC employees with normal day-to-day jobs within the company in Japan. Putting the company’s employees through the paces on the racetrack gives engineers and technicians involved in vehicle development a chance to hone their skills and craftsmanship to continue to deliver products exceeding the customers’ expectations.
In addition to the GAZOO Racing Lexus LFA (car no. 83, SP8 class), the team also entered two race-prepared Toyota GT86 vehicles (car no. 165 and 166, SP3 class). Seasoned endurance racing drivers will join vehicle development employee drivers from TMC.
Prior to taking on the 24-hour endurance race, GAZOO Racing Team kicked off its 2012 race season at the shorter VLN2 and VLN3 races in April this year, with the Lexus LFA claiming class victories and both Toyota GT86 vehicles showing promising progress.
Speaking after the VLN3 race, GAZOO Racing driver Akira Iida commented: “The momentum of our team is very good. Our target for the 24 Hours Nürburgring race is to maintain a steady pace, which is how we chose to set up our cars. Nevertheless, we ran at good speeds and we are confident to be fully ready before the 24-hour race.”
Toyota Swiss Racing Team will join GAZOO Racing at the legendary Eifel circuit with two GT86 vehicles race prepared by Toyota Motorsport GmbH based in Germany. Both entries by the Swiss team (car no. 200 and 201) will compete in the V3 competition class for production vehicle models during the 24-hour endurance race.
In conjunction with the summertime European launch of the Toyota GT86, Toyota Switzerland aims to inspire a new generation of car enthusiasts around the world through its grassroots motorsports activities with the marque’s newest rear-wheel drive sports coupe.
About GAZOO Racing
GAZOO Racing is about communicating the pleasure, passion and dream of motoring to a new generation. Various programmes are prepared to showcase the appeal of motoring: 1) pride and pleasure of ownership: introducing a process in which cars are honed and refined through race participation and other tests; 2) joy and excitement of driving: communicating the joy through thrills and excitement of race circuits; 3) talking cars and sharing passion: providing a forum for car fans to gather and talk about their passion. For more information, visit http://gazoo.com/racing
Spotted on route FM812 in Elroy Texas, just around the corner from our new F1 track Circuit of the Americas. No telephone number provided.
Old Corvairs are hard to find… this one looks restorable and despite apparently sitting outdoors for years, the rust doesn’t look like a major problem. At least from what we can see.
812 was once part of the Austin-Port Lavaca Stagecoach Road, but the Corvair dates to more modern times than that!
We’ll have to admit it: as much as we dislike the Camaro’s rediculous size and bulk, as well as it’s concept car styling (especially the dashboard), we have to admire its engineering. It gets the worldwide platform with IRS that the Ford Mustang is still missing, it takes full benefit of GM’s engine families, and next spring it gets a 580 HP version of the Cadillac CTS-V supercharged V-8 engine.
And, more importantly, this is a Camaro that is much more than the sum of its parts. Endurance testing on the Nurburgring not only ensures that the car can survive the type of track days the rest of us do, it ensures that it can survive them for years on end as well as the travails of daily driving. We’ve experienced the downside of lousy engineering ourselves with our POS 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra, whose supercharged V-8 might have seemed state-of-the-art in its day but which in reality couldn’t survive more than a few hot laps on-track. Nor could it survive hot highways and stop-and-go driving in the heats of a Texas summer.
Note the details in these videos: the ZL-1 is the first performance car that GM has done that has either zero neutral lift or negative lift. Look at the engineering of the ZL-1 and you see a complete package with close attention to nealy all the big and small details: cooling, braking, handling (missing only excellent seating). Ergnomics are still far worse than a Mustang, and the total weight is far greater, but the sum of the engineering and especially the totality of testing is far more extensive. And, yes, we know the upcoming 2013 Shelby Mustang has been briefly tested on the Nurburgring, but that was the first time a Mustang has ever been tested there and it is in our observation (and in our experience as a former Mustang owner, track driver, and instructor) too little and too late.
Kudos to GM engineering for building and testing the most exceptional Camaro ever. The ZL-1 is the last milestone in the current Camaro; an all-new Camaro is in the early stages of engineering and certainly the lessons learned here will be used there.
As followup to our earlier post “David Coultard hoons it up in the Red Bull F1 racecar on the streets of Austin Texas“, here is a short documentary aired by BBC this past weekend as part of their India F1 coverage. It was shot at the Circuit of the Americas and tells the story of the fan interest that is building in the Austin Texas area. We have 2 established “watch parties” in the Austin area, where fans gather to watch every race together and often number more than 100 people. And, indeed, in all of Texas, with groups in Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.
Take note in the video of Wild Bubba himself, of Wild Bubbas Wild Game Grill (offering the best wild game burgers in Texas), who has established the local “hangout” for Central Texas F1 fans in his restaurant. Where you’ll find many of the workers who are building the track gathering for lunch on weekdays, as well as a large collection of F1 memorabilia. All of the top designers and management of the track have been seen there for lunch… you never know who you’ll meet at Wild Bubbas!
Well, (unfortunately) not yours. This is Mathol Racing in Germany in their full-race S2000.
But how would a stock S2000 on the Nurburgring compare? Who else to ask but Gan-san himself, driving around the ‘ring in the prototype S2000 in 1999. Yes, it’s faster than an NSX!