Read more in the Austin American Statesman: http://www.statesman.com/sports/american-le-mans-series-coming-to-circuit-of-2387257.html
GM today confirmed the return of the Holden Commodore to the United States. Last sold as the Pontiac G8, sales suffered because of Pontiac dealer training failures, lack of advertising, and the general decline of GM. The G8 was, as is the Holden Commodore, based on the technologically advanced “Zeta” platform which is also used underneath the Chevrolet Camaro.
This is great news for driving enthusiasts since the Holden is first and foremost a driver’s car. The Commodore is offered in Australia with a range of V-6 and V-8 engines along with modern engines and a dynamic suspension. And several variants are offered including the “Redline” series with a higher performance V-8, 6-speed manual, 19″ tires, and Brembo brakes. We saw several of these on our last trip to Australia and were very impressed. It’s not known if those will come to the U.S.
The existence of the Chevrolet SS sedan has been one of the worst kept secrets in GM over the past few months. The use of the Commodore body for NASCAR had been all but confirmed, and that alone confirmed the importation of the Commodore as the SS. A press image of the disguised SS testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway would have confirmed the SS if Chevrolet hadn’t finally confirmed it in the press announcement today.
Open questions remain… apparently both six-speed and manual transmissions will be offered, but on which V-8s? The current 6- and 6.2-liter engines, or the upcoming 5.5 liter? Furthermore, it is understood that the Camaro will move off the Zeta platform in the 2016 timeframe to the new Alpha platform (used in the Cadillac ATS). The Alpha is a more modern platform, with a particular emphasis on weight reduction (much needed by the porky Camaro). Will Holden then continue to build the Commodore on the Zeta platform, or will that be replaced by the Alpha? The implication in the wording below is that the SS Sedan would move to the Alpha platform along with the Camaro if sales are as expected.
Now that the news is out, it will be interesting to see what Ford has to offer along these lines… the Australian Falcon as it currently exists cannot be Federalized… but an opportunity is coming up for it and the new Mustang to share a chassis in the 2015-2016 timeframe. Will Ford step up to the plate and play?
And in 2013 when the Australian V-8 Supercars series comes to the United States, and fans at the new Circuit of the Americas racetrack outside of Austin Texas are watching the SS-labeled Commodores battle the Falcons, and where Chevrolet will undoubtedly show the production SS, what will Ford have to say?
GM Press Release follows:
Chevrolet Announces New SS Performance Sedan
Will compete in 2013 NASCAR and arrive in showrooms as 2014 model
DETROIT – Chevrolet today announced the return of a V-8 powered, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan to the U.S. lineup, the Chevrolet SS. The SS will also be Chevrolet’s next NASCAR Sprint Cup racecar and will debut in its race configuration at the 2013 Daytona 500.
The limited production version of the Chevrolet SS will be a 2014 model and will arrive in dealer showrooms in late 2013. It is the first time in 17 years that Chevrolet will offer a rear-wheel-drive sedan for sale in the United States.
Chevrolet has a long history of using the SS (Super Sport) designation on high-performance models of some of its most enduring nameplates. The SS designation first appeared in 1957 on a Corvette prototype race car built under the guidance of Zora Arkus-Duntov with the plan to enter it in the Le Mans 24-hour race.
The first production vehicle offered with an SS option was the 1961 Impala – 453 were built with the performance upgrades which included a modified chassis and suspension, power brakes, a steering column mounted tachometer and unique wheels and tires. The latest SS model in the Chevrolet lineup is the fifth-generation Camaro, which debuted in 2010.
The Chevrolet SS will be a derivative of the award-winning global rear-wheel-drive architecture that spawns performance vehicles like Chevrolet Camaro and Holden’s upcoming VF Commodore. The much anticipated Australian-built car will benefit from significant technology advances which enhance overall performance.
“As a passionate race fan and performance enthusiast, I am thrilled that Chevrolet will deliver a true rear-wheel-drive NASCAR racecar in the SS that is closely linked to the performance sedan that will be available for sale,” said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America. “The Chevrolet SS is a great example of how GM is able to leverage its global product portfolio to deliver a unique performance experience that extends beyond the track. I am personally looking forward to driving it.”
Chevrolet was America’s best-selling performance car brand in 2011 with Camaro and Corvette accounting for one out of every three sports cars sold in the United States. The addition of the SS should strengthen Chevrolet’s position as a leading performance brand.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.
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!
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!
Red Bull has released the video they shot in the Austin area in August, including parts filmed downtown, on a ranch south of Austin, along route 812 in Speed City, and on the Circuit of the Americas track itself. The video begins with the “red bull” escaping from a barn chased by cowboys on horseback.
The scenes of the track under construction is particularly interesting: the track itself has been dug out 6 to 8 feet below ground in preparation for laying the multiple layers of base and paving. It shows the extent to which the builders go to provide a perfect surface for racing.
And consider the cost of making this video: not only the time and materials, but the wear and tear on the car and on its engine. This is clearly a labor of love by Red Bull, David Coultard, and everyone concerned. And it’s just the first taste of what we’ll see from the return of F1 to North America.
Given all the confusion over the weekend over the Red Bull F1 car appearance and events, where the filming on Austin city streets was on, then off, then on again (but spectators were not officially allowed and found ways to show up anyway), it was tough to know what was actually happening and especially what was changing.
The only way to keep track of what is happening is thru numerous Facebook pages that are maintained by local enthusiasts. Here are the ones we’re aware of:
- Austin F1 Club
- Friends of Formula 1 Austin Texas
- The Austin Grand Prix
- Formula 1 Austin
- F1 Austin
- Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill <– the “hang-out” of F1 fans locally
- Friends of Circuit of the Americas
- Circuit of The Americas
“Like” the pages and then aggregate the information.
This is also a great way for fans out of the area or out of the country to keep track of the progress of the track.
Yes it can, and that’s exactly what happened over the weekend at, in, and around the Circuit of the Americas F1 track in Austin, Texas. The Red Bull demo car, which the previous day played hoon on the streets of downtown Austin, visited the track for a lap in the dirt surface of the construction site, then took to back roads around the track site itself. Look for Red Bull to release the full video in mid-September.
Watch, enjoy, stare in disbelief.
Construction on the Circuit of the Americas facility is progressing as planned. The facility is a several hundred million dollar project that is 100 percent privately financed.
Now, we need your help to get it over the finish line:
1) This week, the Austin City Council will begin the process of deciding if Austin will be the host community for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix race. The Council had a staff briefing at their Tuesday morning work session followed by a Thursday morning discussion and public comment period about the project.
The race will generate an estimated $300 million per-year economic impact on the local economy for 10 years. It is creating more than 1,000 construction-related jobs right now. In addition to the jobs already created, this project is attracting businesses to the area in a variety of sectors. It is also creating substantial job-training opportunities for several area schools and universities.
Opponents to Formula 1 in Austin will certainly voice their opinions against the project. That’s why we need you to voice your support for the project to the Austin City Council immediately. Please write favorable emails to the following addresses:
- the following email addresses at this domain: ci.austin.tx.us
- Chris Riley
- Mike Martinez
- Bill Spelman
2) Please consider signing the petition “Tell the Austin City Council to Vote YES on Formula 1“. Our goal is to reach 2,000 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-the-austin-city-council-to-vote-yes-on-formula-1
Please, take the time to show your support for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix project. Everyone around the world should participate.
Friends of Formula 1 Austin Texas
The announcement this past week of the June 17 2012 date for the 1st United States Grand Prix at the new Circuit of the Americas track outside Austin Texas is just one more step in the process. $450 million US Dollars have been committed to build and finish out the facility. Construction is proceeding at maximum speed. More personnel have been hired. Other events such as MotoGP have been added to the calendar and many more are in early planning stages. Formula 1 fans across the Americas and indeed the world are making hotel reservations and putting travel plans in place to be here in person for the first race.
Central Texans can hardly believe their good luck. Local enthusiasts are accelerating their appreciation for F1 and get together as a group to watch every race. The first tour of the track is being offered to fans this week. Wild Bubbas Wild Game Grill in Speed City Texas (administratively known as Elroy Texas, it is the actual home of the new track) is the defacto hangout for fans and includes a growing shrine of images, videos and memorabilia. Located in Elroy next to the track, you never know who you will sit down next to for lunch or dinner (for our most recent visit there, it was a table of Tilke engineers!!).
In appreciation, Wild Bubba’s is offering a free gathering with complementary German food and BYOB beer. This will be an absolutely unique experience, your chance to socialize with enthusiasts from all around. RSVP by email as shown in the invitation below. And if you need a hotel, choose one near the Austin Airport.
If you have a chance to regularly visit the Circuit of the Americas track as we do, you’ll notice the increased rate of construction. If not, here’s a review of what happened form March 29 to April 29.
Great video – let’s hope the organizers continue to provide updates over the next ~52 weeks. Speaking of which, the big question now is whether the 1st F1 event here will be before or after the Canadian Grand Prix in 2012. We’re hoping for before: we want the weather to be as cool as possible. The end of May would be even better, but it’s very unlikely that the Monaco organizers would agree to change their date.