The Byron Bet

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I wish I had gone to a university that sponsored a NASCAR team.

After Jeff Gordon departed from NASCAR, the number 24 car was left open in the Rick Hendrick stable. While Chase Elliott was chosen to fill that seat immediately, everyone knew Chase would go on to pilot the 9, like his dad, so everyone wondered who would eventually take the wheel of the 24. When the dust settled and the ink dried, William Byron, at the age of 20, was going to be driving the iconic number 24 Chevrolet Camaro.

Now, after 2 years, he has no wins, only 22 top 10 finishes, and 5 poles. Sadly, he has not been all that successful even though he has Chad Knaus as his crew chief. Chad helped another driver at Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson, win seven championships. William has the best racing equipment money can buy with one of the best crew chiefs and yet he can’t seem to put it all together to get the car to victory lane.

William reminds me of the third Cars movie. He is very good at virtual racing and training on simulators. We saw during the hiatus that he is clearly good at iRacing. He won twice during the break for the pandemic. But, he isn’t quite like the Cars movie in regard to the digital talent translating to the real-life track. Maybe he should simply stick to virtual racing? NASCAR might be branching off in that direction someday sooner rather than later, and he could be a star that transitions from real life to virtual.

I don’t want to speak ill of him though. He might simply be in a situation like Joey Lagano was. Even though Joey had top tier equipment at JGR in his first few years, he certainly wasn’t showing the results of having it. Once he moved to Penske, he has won numerous times and even has a championship to his name. Could Byron still be getting his legs in the sport, and need to move to a different team to experience success? Only time will tell with that. but I do think that this might be the case. I think he still needs time and potentially a new team or manufacturer in order to start experiencing success. That is what I am betting on. The real question will be if he will ever leave Hendrick?

Lastly, but more of a side note. Byron attends Liberty University, that also sponsors him. I wonder if he pays tuition? I am also somewhat jealous because I went to Regent University, a rival to Liberty. Regent is not anywhere near Liberty in regard to campus size, student population, sports, or anything else, except maybe the televangelists that founded each of them, and they are both in Virginia. I would have loved to have gone to a school that sponsored a NASCAR team, even if it was a non-winning driver.

Bronco Launch: Boom or Bust?

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Ford introduced the Bronco on Monday night and it was met with great fanfare and rejoicing. I have been incredibly excited for it to debut and would love to have put down a deposit on one. The website to reserve one crashed almost immediately. It will be a very successful and popular vehicle. But for as hyped as the Bronco was, the launch, especially being all virtual, did not go as well as it could have in my opinion, and here is why.

Ford teamed up with Disney Creativeworks to create three short films about the Bronco directed by Jimmy Chin. You can watch each film here, here, and here. They were shown around the 8 o’clock hour on Monday, July 13th. One on ABC, one on ESPN, and the last National Geographic. Ford also did a virtual launch on their YouTube channel.

After watching all three, I now see what Ford was trying to do and where they were trying to go. They are trying to say get off your butt and go out in nature. Stop watching it on TV, get in a Bronco, and go live. They want to show they are going back to their roots, ready to tackle the tough terrain and take on Jeep. It is showing that Ford has climbed up out of there old ways because each film has climbing in it. Jimmy is not just an award-winning film director, he is also a climber. That is evident in all three short films that he made. The climbing aspect was much better in Jimmy’s own film than it was in the other two.

Jimmy’s own film was just much better overall. He did better at making the Bronco a part of his story, sort of like a supporting role, rather than just a vehicle being driven by a celebrity. I do not want to belittle those celebrities either. Their stories were amazing and they are awesome people. I just don’t think Jimmy could incorporate the Bronco into them as well and it seemed more forced and less natural. But that is simply my opinion.

The main issue I have is this. For as much hype that had been put into these films and the Bronco launch in general, it was insanely overrated. It is also ridiculously hard to find where they said they said they were going to place these films. They said they would be available on Hulu starting July 14th, the day after the launch. Maybe they were there. I wasn’t able to check. But, I did check on July 16th and did not find them. I searched, but I didn’t see anything Ford or Bronco related. Therefore, I went to YouTube. All three films are there but they have so few views in my opinion. Ford really dropped the ball on these films, I think. The most views one of the films has is 272,000. You might think that is a lot, but when you look at the live launch they debuted on YouTube, that video has over 2.8 million views. The films to me were a total dud and a total distraction.

Ford has had issues with launches in the past, especially the Explorer. If you want to hand Ford a pass because of the pandemic, that is fine. I will cut them a little slack. But really, they have rumored the Bronco for YEARS. Ford kept changing the date because the first launch date was set to be in the spring of 2020. Then the pandemic hit and caused them to set a new date. That date was July 9th, which was OJ Simpson’s birthday. How did they not know that? When your vehicle is associated with something like that, one would think a simple Google search would tell you a birthday? Not intentionally doing that, and wanting to not cause controversy, they moved it to July 13th and said all 3 films would come out across 3 Disney network of channels. Then there would also be something on YouTube. Yet, in none of these did a CEO get up and say anything about the vehicle, or show one in action in real life. Everything was staged and filmed prior. Nothing was live. There were hardly any facts given that we didn’t already know.

If it seems like I am ranting and long-winded it is because I can’t seem to articulate how confusing this launch was. My point is this. It should have been a very simple, inspiring, and proud event. In reality, it had very few of those things.

Let me be clear though. The Bronco launch did not fail. There was so much hype about it to begin with that it really couldn’t fail. It just wasn’t as amazing as it could or should have been in my journalism degree, automotive enthusiast opinion.

Crossing the Country Really Fast

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The subject of Cannonball has been incredibly popular in the last few weeks. Prior to that, it had been somewhat of a novel automotive hobby that was starting to gain popularity again thanks to Ed Bolian and VINwiki and the “fraternity of lunatics.”

Recently, the solo cannonball record fell, which, surprisingly enough, beat Ed’s record run that had lasted up until November 2019. Then during the pandemic, many attempts were made and the record just kept getting lower and lower. A point could be made that the pandemic made it easier to cross the country from the Red Ball parking garage in New York City to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, California. Maybe there should be a separate record category for the pandemic runs? I was curious to know what Ed would think, since he seems to be the face of all of this. He described in a video that the situation is different than it was before the pandemic and there is some controversy among those in the activity, but this isn’t exactly an activity with defined rules.

With that said, back to the solo cannonball run. It was done in a rented Ford Mustang that was modified to hold 3 fuel tanks in the cabin of the car. The driver only had to stop for 8 minutes to get fuel. And this is what I started to ponder, could those 8 minutes be eliminated with on the move refueling?

BMW created a system to refuel a car while moving when they attempted the longest drift record. It looks similar to the way aircraft refuel in flight. If this system was applied to cannonball, where you could get a lighter, faster, (electronic speed limiter turned off), and covert car that gobbles up ground quickly, it would be a very serious record breaking run.

Wrangler Raptor Bronco Battle

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A few weeks ago, I commented on a Ford Bronco post on social media that was about how Ford thinks the new Bronco will eat the Jeep Wrangler for lunch (I’m not really sure where the exact quote about that is). My comment was, that on paper, the new Bronco looks to be a superior off-road vehicle to the Jeep. Many people quickly commented back saying that being able to make a prediction like that is not sound and that there is one crippling feature the Bronco does not have which will always make the Jeep superior.

That feature is a solid front axle. Jeeps always reign supreme because of having a solid front axle. The Bronco will be coming with independent front suspension. While I completely agree, that my opinion about the Bronco on paper is premature to call it superior to the Jeep without actually physically being able to compare them yet, I had to really think about the solid front axle issue.

After thinking long and hard about it, I concluded that I believe the Bronco is intended to be a different kind of off-road vehicle. I am not saying that the Bronco should not be compared to the Jeep, but I think the type of off-roading each vehicle is good at is slightly different. Jeep is intended for mountainous trails with steep inclines and jagged rocks. The Raptor and soon to be Bronco are created for desert trails and speed. That conclusion was solidified when I watched one of Doug DeMuros recent videos about the Jeep Mojave. I think Jeep built the new Mojave to specifically go head to head with the new Bronco in desert speed. The Fox shocks installed on the Mojave is almost the sole reason I think this.

What vehicle are Fox shocks famously found on? Oh yeah, the Ford Raptor. While no one is exactly comparing a Raptor to a Jeep, the Raptor is an insane desert off-roader. That is the type of driving I believe that the Bronco will fulfill to an even greater degree, but also tackle mountainous trails in an above-average way than what the Raptor currently does. This is why I think Jeep is installing Fox shocks, increasing the speed in low gear via the transfer case, and raising the ride height of the Mojave to prepare to compete with the Bronco on desert trail running. They know the Bronco is a threat and they are preparing for it. On the flip side, one could wonder why Jeep is moving away from “Trail Rated” and now placing “Desert Rated” badges on the Mojave? I think they want to show dominance in all areas first.

All of this makes sense when you look at the type of vehicles most popularly used for desert rally and endurance racing. Trophy trucks and the H1 Hummer are not exactly solid axle. The rear axle of a trophy truck is solid, but the front is independent and Hummers are portal. Looking at those vehicles and knowing that the Raptor is built to be with those vehicles, I believe it is safe to assume that the Bronco, with its independent suspension, is intended to join those vehicles playing in the sandbox.

One last side point is the modification capability of each vehicle. A point I made in my comment on social media was that the Jeep culture is vast and strong, and the aftermarket modification parts, capability, and customization is enormous. The Bronco out of the box will not have that. It will take some time for the aftermarket accessories to increase and bugs to be ironed out.

Even with all of this, I am incredibly excited for the Bronco to come on the market. Choices and competition are amazing and this will only make the off-road segment even more popular. Although, most of these will probably never leave the asphalt.

The True Cost of Hot Wheel Hunting

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Face it, hunting for Hot Wheels, as addicting and as much of a rush as it can be, takes a lot of time. As the saying goes, time is money. You might be wondering, how much money does the Hot Wheel hobby cost? Time to do that math!

Let’s keep everything well rounded and easy for this example. If you have a job, you get paid for your time to do the work.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. So, at minimum, your time hunting costs at least that, even if it is your hobby. You have to approach it from this angle because if you aren’t earning money, you need to know how much your time would be worth if you were earning money.

Next, according to AAA, the average annual cost of owning a vehicle in 2019 was $9,282 a year, or $773.50 a month. That is $25.78 a day and $1.07 an hour. If you consider Hot Wheel hunting as a job of sorts, you might also want to consider the federal cost per mile rate, which is currently 57.5 cents per mile. That would be money you could be getting if you were not working for yourself. Otherwise, this doesn’t exactly fit into the equation because if one is using their own car, I believe the AAA rate accounts for the cost per mile in the ownership.

Hot Wheels cars can range in price. But, lets just take the mainline cars, and give them a rounded price of exactly $1.00. This example will be for just a single car

The equation is this: cost of time + cost of Hot Wheels + cost of car ownership = true cost to hunt Hot Wheels

If you spent 1 hour hunting for 1 Hot Wheel, the true cost of that car to you would be $7.25 + $1.00 + $1.07 = $9.32

Clearly those numbers can be adjusted accordingly. If the time is less or greater, if the amount of cars are more, and if you go to out to hunt multiple times a week. Even though you are paying a somewhat fixed price for the cost of ownership for your vehicle, the example is only using the average. That cost can technically be higher or lower as well.

So, that means you have to sell your $1 car for $9.32 and that still won’t get you to the break even point. Then there there is the second part of the equation.

The second part is selling and shipping and supplies.

Fees to post on eBay, use Paypal, and have shipping supplies can sometimes run up to 50% of the total cost. So, to sell that $1 car, to break even just from hunting for it, you have to sell it at $9.32. But if you don’t want to take a loss with fees and shipping and supplies, you would have to put the price up to about $15 dollars. That begins to make it a hard buy for someone who might hunt these cars themselves, and doesn’t make $15 an hour at a job. If you make more than $15 an hour, it still is hard buy when you only get 1 car. You might as well go spend an hour hunting and find 15 cars.

It is very hard to make money from buying mainline Hot Wheels on the pegs and reselling them online. There is money to be made, but you have to hunt, you have to hustle, and you have to work very, very hard. You also have to get a hold of cars that can turn higher profits, such as Super Treasure Hunts, or joining the Red Line Club and buy and flip those cars. I will say though, 100% profit is 100% profit, whether you make a dollar profit off a dollar car, or a $30 profit off a $30 dollar car, math is math. You just have to decide what is worth while to you.

Scalpers: Those Pesky People who get to the Pegs First

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The word scalper according to Google is defined as “a person who resell shares or tickets at a large or quick profit” If you are familiar with the Hot Wheels hobby, you have no doubt heard this word used often. It is not a word or person that someone wants to be…or is it?

I think the true issue people have is this. They are mad at “scalpers” which really means anyone who finds cars on the pegs at a store before they do. I saw a post on social media the other day about how crappy a person’s day was because they walked into a store just to have someone pull a super treasure hunt out of a case right in front of their eyes. When it is all about the super treasure hunts, there really isn’t a lot of depth to the hunt or hobby at that point. Especially if you consider yourself to have the rest of your day deemed bad because of it. This is silly to me. Pallet raiders and door warmers and the over used term “scalper” are just ways to blame others for something you can’t control.

Hot Wheel hunting is a very time consuming, expensive, repetitive, tedious, and patience practicing hobby. I’ve seen so many people get into the hobby at full throttle only to get worn out, frustrated, and low on funds in a matter of 6 to 9 months because they did not understand what they were about to get themselves into. Many people are considering this an investment hobby as well. Now days there are so many stories of childhood toys worth thousands of dollars tucked away in closets and attics. People create value and things get expensive for a time, but everything is cyclical. Those of us who have been in the hobby for more that a few years, in many cases, decades, just learn to be patient.

A number of months ago, a video was going around the internet showing the popular author, entrepreneur, and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk attending a garage sale. The part I am referencing starts at 11:54 and goes to 15:07. Here is a quick clip on Instagram if you don’t want to watch the whole thing linked above. In the video, he came across a tub full of diecast cars, haggled a bit with the sellers, and then purchased the lump sum. He then went back to his car and quickly Googled some of the cars in his recent purchase to find that some of them were worth already more than what he paid for the bunch.

At first I found myself very angry at that video. Now every person who owns any diecast car is going to think they have some gem worth something expensive and make the diecast hobby that much more expensive, cluttered, and inflated. Plus all these people are only doing it for the money. They aren’t into it for the collecting or the way the cars make them feel.

Then I started thinking about it more and realized it’s not a big deal. If you have a product that you can somehow find a buyer to buy it for more than you did, props to you. I do that. When I have found a fresh case on the pegs before anyone else, I will buy all the cars I want, and if I have extra, I will sell, trade, or give them away. I wouldn’t consider myself a “scalper.” It just comes with the hobby. The only issue it really creates is that now, if you are really into the hobby, the prices of things become incredibly inflated. But that is a cycle. Once people realize that it is not the most lucrative thing because you have to work hard and hustle, prices will get back to acceptable rates. You just have to be patient.

We watch people on TV flip all kinds of things. Between Flip or Flop on HGTV, Fast N’Loud on Discovery, or an old school favorite like Pawn Stars, all of these shows teach people how “lucrative” flipping or buying and reselling can be. But not everyone is cut out for that and not everyone has the skill, talent, work ethic, or patience to do that. In the end, if you really want something, you’ll have your own opinions on how to get it and at what price. When it comes to selling, it is the same thing. That cycle is what keeps the economy rolling along. For all of those people who have found their niche and are sticking with it, they will know how to be patient and play the long game. That is when the most work, the most fun, and the most profit all start to coincide and true enthusiast has been made.

Did Kyle Really Wreck Chase?

Last Wednesday we saw towards the end of the race at Darlington, Kyle Busch slide up and bump the left rear of Chase Elliott causing him to slide into the inside wall and take him out of the race. That has since exploded into the headlines and has caused quite a stir among fans and non fans alike.

It is understandable that Chase was not a happy camper. Kyle claimed it was a mistake on his end. Even though he owned up to it, it didn’t make Chase or his crew chief feel much better. Many people believe Kyle intentionally wrecked Chase. While I am a fan of Kyle, and I’m not going to defend him exactly, I want to look at the situation and point out a few things

First, no matter how professional someone is, they are human and can still and do make mistakes.

Second, it has been a while since they have been in the cars. They have been doing iRacing, which is vastly different than real life.

Thirdly, the spotters are not in their normal positions. If you’ve ever stood in the top row at one of the tracks, it’s very hard to see the front stretch when the cars are up against the wall. Considering that is where the incident occurred, it makes sense the spotters might not have been much help there.

Fourth and lastly, really look and watch the footage. If you watch, when Chase and Denny pass Kyle who goes to the inside in/off turn four, they are bumper to bumper and cruising. Since Chase was so close to Denny coming off turn four, then as they went down the front stretch, Chase does not seem to stay connected to Denny. He slows down and begins to put a full car length gap in between them. At that point I think Kyle is mirror driving to make sure Kevin Harvick is not coming up too fast to prevent him from going up and getting in line. The problem really is that it seems that the entire top line slows down at the same pace. Kyle continues the pace he was holding and simply moved up into a gap he thought was there. You might see it differently, but I have simply shared my view and opinion of the situation.

Look closely at the shadow gap between Denny and Chase. It gets much larger as it goes down the front stretch.

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I find it interesting that probably the most controversial drivers, Kyle Busch, has created a huge ripple with the sports most popular driver, Chase Elliott. It makes for great entertainment and a YouTuber that I follow, David Land, sums it up well in his video. I’m so glad NASCAR is back and this situation, regardless of which side you are on, has elevated the sport into everyday conversation. That type of marketing is priceless.

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You can’t quite see Chase’s left headlight.
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Now you can see the left headlight. Kyle is now moving up.
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Look at the gap! That is a whole car length behind Denny.

Let me know below what you think.

Buffet of Topics for Today

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I didn’t get this post done ahead of time or scheduled on my regular Thursday at 10 time, but that is ok. There are a lot of topics I would like to cover quickly in the blog. Some are new thoughts and some are follow ups so hopefully you enjoy.

A week or so ago was Ford week on the blog, at least that is what each topic was about that week. Since the blog about the Ford Bronco, Ford has announced that they will not debut the Bronco until 2021. That is painful. I am tired of all these car companies “jumping the shark.” Make the car and we will give you money. That is not a hard equation. Side note to the Ford topic as well, my wife and I still haven’t filled out our paper work to get $20 for our Ford Focus issues. Maybe I should get on that.

Next up, NASCAR is BACK! It has been a little different than normal. No fans are in the stands, not even the announcers are present at the track. There is very limited crew and drivers must wear masks when not in the car. Last night Kyle Busch (my favorite driver) caused a bit of anger filled drama when he bumped Chase Elliott causing Chase to wreck. I am not going to defend Kyle, I am simply going to say, it really does look like he was driving by his mirror. Ryan Newman is back in the car after his crash at Daytona. Matt Kenseth has replaced Kyle Larson in the number 42 after Larson said a bad word during iRacing. I am excited for the next race at Charlotte this weekend.

I am finally getting back to Hot Wheel hunting and have been thrilled to find some really nice stuff on the pegs. I am hopefully going to be making videos of all the find that I have acquired, so keep tuned to the All Out Octane YouTube channel for the latest Hot Wheel and Matchbox finds! Both the blue and orange brands have some amazing cars coming out this year, along with great recolors of old cars, and it is nice to be able to share them with all of you!

 

*For fun- Comment below, would rather have a 2020 Chevy Camaro, a 2020 Ford Mustang, or a 2020 Dodge Challenger?

Dyson Ditched Car Making

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2 and a half years later, my shirt is the same but my prediction was completely wrong.

Two and a half years ago, there were reports that Dyson was going to be working on an electric vehicle. I made a video and a blog on September 28th, 2017 where I covered the topic briefly and predicted that Dyson would have a concept on the road before a Tesla semi would be on the road. That was one terrible prediction on my part. Tesla 1, Brentton 0.

Autoweek ran an article recently that explained how the founder of Dyson spent $609 million of his own money on the electric car project, only to find out that in order to simply break even, the car would have to be sold for $180,000. If this isn’t proof that profitability in transportation and mobility services is almost near impossible, I don’t know what more you could ask for.

While I am sad that Dyson abandoned the project, and let me down on my prediction, I can also understand and respect the choice. I want to step out of the auto industry for just a moment to provide an example of high cost, low profit projects. Recently, my wife has been looking into creating a point and click video game for PC and mobile. When you add up the cost of software, talent (if you can’t do everything yourself), time, materials, a somewhat simple game can start off anywhere from 3 to 5 thousand dollars to make. People pay for quality games. In order to turn a profit, we would most likely have to sell the game for $10 which might price out our audience. If we sold it at a $1, we would need to sell over 10,000 copies to turn some small profit. We don’t know if we have an audience that large. So, after counting up all the associated costs, and estimating and understanding the industry a little more, it is not surprising that large game studios spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce a top tier game, like The Last of Us or Forza or Fifa. Then, in order to make any sort of profit, there is a reason those games are nearly $80 at launch, even with the quantities they sell them in. The cost to produce video games is an upfront, staggering cost.

Hopefully that will help shed light on just how hard it is for these EV automotive start-up companies to produce a product. The industry is cut throat and expensive. No one works for free. If you can’t turn a profit you won’t stay in business. And for what it is worth, Tesla is barely profitable. Elon can get an Eskimo to buy ice in the arctic and has had investors pour millions into Tesla. If everyone wanted their return on investment right now, the company would cease to exist.

Why Four Door?

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These are two of the four sedans that I have owned.

Growing up I really liked the BMW 3 series, specifically the sedan. I also liked the 5 series and while walking home from school everyday in 7th grade, which was around 2001, I would pass a BMW M5 that was parked in front of a local furniture store. A Volvo S60 was also parked there on the days the M5 wasn’t there and I’ll have another blog with reference to that in the future. But, the styling of the BMW with the four headlights, muscular and toned panels, and accurate proportions appealed to me as the utmost perfection in sedan design. It was also and incredible performing vehicle and as their slogan said back then, it was the “ultimate driving machine.”

I have mentioned a few cars, sedans specifically, that I grew up with a keen eye for. Knowing I probably couldn’t afford a BMW, which I couldn’t, I tried to reason with myself that maybe I could get my parents to buy me something that looked like it. The Mitsubishi Diamante was one of those cars. It has the four headlights up front, stylish body work, and great proportions.

The second car around 2001 that fit the bill was a Lincoln LS. Again, four headlights, luxurious yet sporty looking, and it had a complementing stance with proper ratios. Someone who attended the church my family went to had one, and it was always a delight pulling into the parking lot on Sunday morning and seeing that awesome silver sedan.

I was never able to convince my parents to get me any of those cars by the time I was able to drive. I was never able to save up to buy anything myself either. But, it these cars were iconic to me and to this day, I believe they fit my personality very well. They are still some of the most wonderfully designed cars in my opinion.