Automotive Thoughts and Topics 2

In the diecast part of my automotive passion, I have a follow up on the black and gold series of Hot Heels I mentioned in my last vlog/blog. There have been two pictures of two cars that have been displayed and they are nothing like how I imagined them looking. The 67 Camaro I predicted was not one of the cars. While I still don’t know if it will be, based on the color schemes of the cars that debuted, I am leaning towards a no. See for yourself below.

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In the real automotive world, I took a trip  a few weekends to my wife’s parents home in Maryland. My wife was a bridesmaid and because she had to be with the wedding party all day before the wedding, I spent time with her family. Her dad took me to see a friend of his who has a 1963 Ford Galaxie. He told me the story of the Tasca Ford badge he had on the car. I was not familiar with Tasca before, but the story he told me about their tuning of Ford vehicles had me riveted. I looked then up further when I got home and I was fascinated at their legacy and story. If I had a Ford product, (someday I will get my wife her dream car, a red convertible Mustang) I would certainly consider having Tasca tune it. If you are not familiar with them you can check out Tasca here.

If you have not heard, there is a very big scandal being exposed in the steel industry. A Japanese steel manufacturer and supplier, Kobe Steel, has been discovered to have lied about its steels strength. This could have catastrophic effects on the safety of automobiles, planes, and other people moving things. What I find fascinating about the whole situation is that this is really as common now as it ever has been. In my time on this planet I have seen the Firestone tire scandal, the Takata air bag scandal, the VW diesel scandal, and a host of others that just are not at the top of my mind. All that to say, eventually, it will all be in the history books and show up on lists like this in another 10 years.

Lastly, and this topic is actually the one I am most opinionated about this week, is the sponsorship of the Number 24 car in NASCAR for the 2018 season with William Byron behind the wheel. That sponsor is Liberty University. I am excited for the rookie driver to take his skills to the Monster Energy series. I have nothing against William, Hendrick, or Chevrolet (how about those Camaro’s for 2018?). I actually don’t have anything against Liberty University either. It is a great school. My cousin graduated from there and I have known many people who have attended and graduated.

The truth is that I am a bit sore, maybe jealous, that they are sponsoring a NASCAR team. You see, I attended Regent University. It is known to those who are familiar with either of these universities, or the culture that surrounds them, that Regent and Liberty are rivals. In recent years, Liberty has been leaving Regent in the dust in just about every way from a collegiate standpoint. Beyond academia, their promoting power is extensive, and it became very real to me when they are going to be a full time sponsor for a NASCAR team in the highest series. I am not sure of the complete budget, but based on this article here, in 2013, a primary sponsorship could cost anywhere from $5 million to $35 million. An associate sponsorship is anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million. That was in 2013. That means, Liberty University is shelling out, at minimum of $250,000. To be honest, we all know that it is MUCH higher than that. Liberty is sponsoring one of the most iconic numbers with one of the most successful teams, with one of the brightest rookie drivers in the sport.

The fact that Liberty has that much money in their advertising budget, or any budget, is INCREDIBLE. They must be doing incredibly well. My alma mater can barely house their student population, they have no cafeteria, no gym for their newly formed soccer team to train in, or really any other facility to provide for all the things on campus students need. To build those, Regent has to have money. Regent can barely provide for the needs of students and here Liberty is able to sponsor a NASCAR team. Gosh…I wish I could say the college I went to sponsors a NASCAR team. I so wish I could. Oh well. I will be rooting for William in the number 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro. I will be rooting for him to win and to have as much success as he can. I want him to win because the whole story situation is just awesome.

It is like any other rivalry, where you have someone in your camp, that really isn’t for your side at all. It is comparable to living in either Ohio or Michigan and rooting for the opposite states college football team. I will gladly root for Regents rival in NASCAR, because I like NASCAR. But I will NEVER root for the team up north. Go Bucks!

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Automotive Thoughts and Topics 1

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I would like to share a few quick thoughts about the real life automotive world and the die-cast world.

First up, they have more confirmed reports that the new C8 Corvette will be mid-engine. I am in full support of that. I wrote a blog about it back on March 10, 2010. I think they should have waited until now to bring back the Sting Ray name plate, though. They should do some sort of split rear window with a mid-engine car in tribute to the 1963 Corvette. However, I do think that giving it the “Zora” name is legacy appropriate and a fitting nameplate for the car.

Second, electric cars and trucks have been around for a long time. I have some doubts about the Tesla semi. Will it happen, yes. When, I don’t know. I would place a stronger chance on the news that Dyson, yes the vacuum maker, will at least have their concept electric car on the road before a Tesla semi hits the road. This should be a whole blog entirely.

In the die-cast world, Hot Wheels has their 50th anniversary in 2018. That is the golden anniversary. They are set to come out with a 50th anniversary black and gold theme set of cars. I think they teased one of the cars that will be in that set in their recent “The Drive” commercial. It is a gold 67 Camaro with black accents. I think that will be one of the cars, along with the Gas Monkey Corvette from last year. They will just spruce it up with black accents.

My dad found the whole set of Forza cars that were just released exclusively to Walmart. I really appreciate him finding and buying those for me. He was unable to find the chase car. I won’t be able to un-box those for you until I get them because he is a few states away and I am not sure when I will get them. However, I’ll be on the hunt for the chase car.

I found the last four cars of the Target exclusive Retro Style Series. My wife was able to find Turbine Time behind a Hot Wheels play set on the shelf. I am glad she looked! I was also able to find the last 3 remaining Red series Target cars as well. I am only missing the 55 Chevy Gasser from the first set released this year.

I am writing down some goals for All Out Octane for 2018 and I am excited to try to put them into a reality. I appreciate all your support. Thank you so much for your time and consideration as I share my hobby and passion for automobiles with you.

Hot Wheels Kmart Day

 

Last Saturday my wife and I went to a Hot Wheel Kmart collector day. While we are no strangers to these events, the location we went to was new for us. With fewer and fewer Kmarts in existence, these events are becoming rare.

A Hot Wheel collectors day consists of waking up early and heading to the store to get there when it opens. I am so thankful that my wife is such a a good sport and so supportive of my hobby. We got to the store at 8 and realized that the event started at 9. We talked to a few of the other regular attendees while we waited. We finally asked for names, contact info, and even figured out we go to the same church as one collector.

At 9 o’clock the Kmart employees came out with 3 boxes of cars. Each box contains 4 cases. That means there are 12 cases to go through. There were 15 people at the event. So, that means three people will not get a case to go through. Each Kmart does a different method of getting to go through the cases. This particular one, each attendee gets a ticket. When/if your ticket gets drawn, you go to a table to pick up the case they hand you. You then can go through it at your leasiure and choose as many cars as you want. I have been to other locations where when your ticket is called, you go up, pick a case, and have five minutes to pick out five cars while everyone else watches and waits. That to me always seemed a little strange, but in some regard, it makes your really think hard about what cars you are choosing.

The cars to choose are normally in this order; super treasure hunts (if your case is lucky enough to have one), regular treasure hunts, Kmart exclusive colors (a car in a color that can only be found and purchased at Kmart), and the first to market cars (these are cars that are supposed to be found at this event first, before hitting the pegs at all other stores). Sometimes the first to market cars happen to show up in other stores first and makes their allure less appealing. Then you pick out the latest and greatest to your desire. If people are friendly, which I have always been to an event where they are, everyone helps one another out to find cars that each one is looking for. Of course this is all in mutual respect and understanding of the hobby and of one another’s preference to keep a car or case. That is their decision and that is respected.

One of the last things to consider is how many cars to purchase. The reason for this factor is because these events debut a mail in offer car. That means if you purchase 20 cars, and mail in their packages, Hot Wheels will send you a special car. More often than not, you will not open a super treasure hunt to send away in the mail because it is worth more than just the initial $1 you paid for it because it is very rare. Other times, you might not want to open the exclusive color cars, or first to markets. However if you want the mail in, you have to find cars that you want to open. In years past, I have purchased well over 40 cars at these events. This event, I walked away with 23 cars. I did not find any treasure hunts or super treasure hunts. The guys at the old location we used to go to, they always told me my wife was lucky because the first event she ever went to, she found a super treasure hunt. She then found one at her second event. Unfortunately, at this event she did not even get a case. That was the first time she had never been called for a case. I guess she is a full blown veteran now, experiencing the highs and lows of Hot Wheel collecting.

I want to thank her for all her support and love. She took great pictures of me at the event. You can see them in the video posted above. I also want to thank my broth r for creating the music for the video. He is crazy musically inclined and I appreciate his help in creating royalty free, amazing music for me.

The Ram-Rex

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Ram-Rex

Earlier this week, an idea sprung up in my head that I just had to express. I had been thinking about the concept cars that were so memorable when I was a kid. One vehicle in particular almost escaped my thoughts, except I managed to capture the thought and let it simmer for a bit. In the late 90’s Dodge created the T-Rex. It was a six wheel drive, insane monster of a truck. The idea was amazing, brilliant, and over the top. Dodge was part of the Daimler group back then. The chassis for the T-Rex was most likely a very early prototype for the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. (I used a photo of the 6×6 for the wheels on the Ram-Rex I created above.)

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1997 Dodge T-Rex

With the popularity of the Ford Raptor and Mercedes G Class vehicles, Ram has not had the popularity in the extreme factory offerings for off road vehicles. They do have the Ram Rebel, but that has not exactly captured the attention that the Ford Raptor has. Then Hennessey created the Ford VelociRaptor. While it is still somewhat a concept, having not been actually made, it can come as a 6 wheel truck. The concept created a lot of media buzz. While some question the integrity of Hennessey as an operation, one cannot overlook the fact that the VelociRaptor is impressive in concept. Below is a picture of the VelociRaptor 6 wheel option.

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Another incredibly popular vehicle right now is the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. This is in production and in my opinion, leads the group of over-the-top luxury SUV’s. The only thing to really top it would be to square it. If you are not sure what that means, you can click here to read about the G 500 4×4 Squared. They say the 4×4 Squared “blends all the advantages of the model series.” How can that be if they don’t make a 6×6 Squared? Below is a picture of the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6.

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If you think about it, Dodge laid the name and chassis foundation for each of the competitors mentioned. Ford has the name Raptor, which could be compared to a dinosaur, which is where Dodge named the T-Rex. Years later, Mercedes comes out with a 6×6 chassis which could be theorized came from the days of the T-Rex.

Overall, I think that Ram should look back at it’s roots and get into the 6×6 market. They should resurrect the ideas from 1997 and make an absolutely outlandish 6×6 vehicle worthy of the brand and the market. I created the Ram-Rex below as inspiration.

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The Lamborghini Lament

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When Lamborghini first rumored they were going to be building a new SUV, I was super excited. I remembered the first one they made, the LM002, and what an outlandish, absurd, and over the top vehicle it was. It was a brutish vehicle that looked like it was in the military reserves one weekend a month, two weeks out of the year. It then would practice law by day, and shuffle the family from horse riding lessons and ballet at night. It was amazing. At least, it has become that iconic to me. I have never driven it but, I guess, I just have this perception, this expectation of what it is.

So when they released the Urus, I was a bit taken aback. That was not the SUV I was envisioning. Now, I know it has not been tested yet. I know that when they conceived this vehicle, they did not know that Ford would be rumoring the return of the Bronco, or that Jeep would be rumoring the return of the Grand Wagoneer. All the big players in the off road game, like Hummer, Land Rover, Jeep, Mercedes G Class, Lexus, and the Ford Raptor should have been worried. The more luxurious ones and soon to be ones, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Maserati should have taken note. Instead, they made something that looks like “an urban mom” would drive, as my wife described.

Harken back farther than the 80s and you’ll remember that Lamborghini made tractors before it made sports cars. Yes, that’s right tractors. In fact, they still make tractors. With all those years of agricultural earth crawling and hauling knowledge, why could they not have applied that to a new SUV? They could have made it rugged, rambunctious, and ridiculous. They have all the right ingredients to make something fast, powerful, and luxurious. It would have been beyond capable, practically at home, off road, to outperform the competition in every conceivable way.

I really wanted the Lamborghini SUV to be a gorilla in a tuxedo. A big, bulky, but surprisingly good looking sight that you can’t take your eyes off of because it is just…bewildering. Its performance would be as obnoxious as expected, but with enough charm that you can’t blame it. These are all qualities that I think are in the lineage of the company and were expressed in the LM002.

Maybe I will put a poster up on my wall like many kids did back in the day with their dream cars. This time, the poster will just be filled with words. Words about a car, because it only exists in my dreams.

Nothing gets passed

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Latelty I have read a few articles about laws to prevent left lane driving; using it only for passing. Links to some of those articles are listed below.

One of determining factors, I think, contributes to this topic is the definition of passing. I listed the link to the definition below. Then, how is that interpreted and applied to the combination of road rules.

There were a few scenarios that I thought would would be open to interpretation for a law enfotcement officer to pull over a drivwr.

1.) If a driver is angry that a person in the left lane is going slow, then the slow driver gets over, that angry driver can now execute a pass. A proper pass as defined. Let’s say they never go over the speed limit. Then, the next car to pass is beyond site from where this current pass took place. What now? The pass is complete, the angry driver should now get into the right hand lane in front of the slow driver, and carry on until the next car to pass is approached. If the angry driver does not get into the right hand lane, then technically, they are now driving in the left lane and not executing a pass.

2.) Let’s toss in a slow grade hill with trees in the median. After cresting the hill in the left lane, angry driver sees a law enforcement officer sitting in the median. They are confident that they are in the clear as they are going the speed limit. But, I really don’t think that to be the case. I think, even if they are going the speed limit, they could in theory, still be pulled over for driving in the left lane without passing.

3.) Let’s toss in more than two lanes going in one direction. A three lane road, what about driving in the middle? Is that just a constant passing lane?

That is simply based on how I read these articles and particular language of bills in states where inhibiting the flow of traffic in the left lane is illegal. All of this applies to congested roads too.

Then you could add in factors like going over the speed limit to pass, weaving in and out of traffic which would be wreckless driving, left exits, or most importantly, the flow of traffic. What exactly does a flow of traffic mean, when everyone is going 70 in a 55, should you get pulled over in any lane for not going 70?

That is the ultimate factor of ambiguous reasoning for enforcement of a law about vehicle passing.

Laws about vehicle passing seem very much open to interpretation. Without having specific reference to posted speed limits in them, or exactly how pass is defined, it makes it hard to say what and how one can get pulled over for passing, or lingerly driving in the left lane.

There is clearly more depth and detail that can be added to this blog. I could write a research paper on this topic. As time permits I might do just that. For right now, this satisfies the general ideas that I saught to share.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pass

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passing_lane

https://apwood.wordpress.com/2008/09/12/why-drive-in-the-right-pass-in-the-left-lane/

http://www.autotrader.com/car-news/virginia-is-about-to-make-it-illegal-to-hog-the-left-lane-261799

http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattle911/2014/10/10/can-i-speed-while-passing/

http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61.425

http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter8/section46.2-804/

Racing is Wonderful

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The other day I was reading an article about how dirt racing is becoming a threat to NASCAR.

Here is a link to that article. https://racingnews.co/2017/02/08/dirt-racing-threat-to-nascar/

I have gave this some thought and the following is what I concluded.

This industry, relies heavily on passion and funding. A home grown racer with a 9-5 who funds their own racing and has a few partnerships with friends businesses or family, is the passion that is so appealing. They prove that anyone can go racing if one has the passion and really tries. But just like anything else, when passion accelerates and confidence and greater funding are acquired, professionals are created. There are plenty of examples of this, and whether or not that person actually has talent, funding opens doors even if skill is not present. This shows that funding is the backbone of more structured, professional, and widely known racing.

Local racing will appeal to those looking to market to people in that target area. If a marketer is growing their business or wants a wider region to market to, they will likely increase funding and require more traveling to different localities. Those looking to market are looking for the most set of eyes, for a price worth while. Many drivers become ambassadors for the companies that fund their racing. Yet again, talent is not exactly needed to achieve this.

So, the largest funded driver, team, series, are going to be the most notable in the industry. Funds mean rules. If a small series grows in popularity, and more funds go into it, there will eventually be more rules, more dare I say, politics, that go into it. Then, all the things that are seen as frustrating and appalling about NASCAR, then grow in the series and events that were once appreciated.

Passion is still in those stages, whether it be driver, fan, engineer, crew, marketing partner, etc. What it really comes down to, is appreciation. Racing is racing. For me, I appreciate NASCAR and the professionalism, funding, passion, and structure the series has. If there is no NASCAR, what will drivers aspire to be?

At the same time, I appreciate dirt track racing, paved oval, karts, trophy trucks, rally, V8 Supercars, Monster Jam, drag, endurance racing, Indy, F1, and any other form of racing. There has to be aspirations and goals for a driver to achieve. There has to be large, traveling type series, so marketers can have the option to fund a marketing campaign. That in turn funds the drivers. These are all the things that make dreams possible. Things do change and go through highs and lows, but a little respect and appreciation will quickly help one see that racing, in any form, is wonderful.