I'm a member of the Motor Press Guild WWW.MotorPressGuild.org
Every year the MPG puts on an a Track Day event at a racing facility.
Even in this unstable economy of 2008, we had a great Track Day...thanks
to the MPG and the sponsors (Toyo Tires, Kelley Blue Book, GM, Hyundai,
Event Solutions International, IntelliChoice, & PR Newswire) and the auto
manufacturers/brands (Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Lotus, GM, Ford, Chrysler,
Land Rover, Suzuki, Honda, Hyundai, Audi, Volkswagen, Jaguar, Lexus, Volvo,
Mitsubishi Acura and more...) who brought out cars to be driven, photographed
and abused by the MPG journalists.
We had a great event on the infield road course at the Auto Club Speedway in
Fontana, California. We drove the road course as well as an autocross course
within the large speedway oval.
The facilities were top-notch! We also had drivers instruction available from
Danny McKeever's Fast Lane Racing School if you wanted or need some help. I used
their services a couple of times and improved my driving abilities.
A good time was had by all.
Here are some photos of the cars I drove on city streets, road course, and auto cross.
I've never rated new cars before, so you can
take all my comments with a grain of salt.
Some cars were strictly marked for street driving and some were marked for
road course driving. Only a few were marked for both. There were a few
that I would have liked to do both with...especially the Audi R8.
The Audi S4 was a nice drive on the road course. It was nice and solid and
it didn't feel like a big car. It had plenty of power. I was impressed.
The Audi R8 was by far the baddest car at the event...and one of the most expensive.
There was always a line of Journalists about 4 deep waiting for their turn to have
their way with this Supercar. Being a relatively ameture driver on the road course,
this car was extremely nuetral around the corners and asked for more speed through
them. I wish I had stood in line again or had another 10 laps with the car. Maybe
Next year. I've always been a Musclecar guy, but now I'm hooked on something a lot newer.
I've never felt a mid-engined car that didn't push or plow into the corners. This car
didn't do anything wrong. I have nothing but great things to say about the R8. I can't
wait to see if tuners are going to make a twin-turbo kit or if Audi will add more power
with a V10. If they do, I hope they bring it to next years event. I'll be waiting in
line as if I were at Disneyland, waiting for the E-Ticket Ride to come back around.
The AMG's were awesome. The SUV even kicked butt on the road course. These were
favorites of Journalists and driving instructors. The tires were toast on the C63
by lunch on the second day and had to be pulled from the lineup. Awesome cars.
These Challengers were ALWAYS gone. When I finally found one available, I jumped in
It was a nice car, but I was underwhelmed by the power...until I found out I had
jumped into the V6 model. :) Good power for a V6. Fit and finish was good.
This one was a street driver only.
I had my doubts about Hyundia's new model, Genesis, aimed at the luxury car market, so
I had to at least test drive it. The quality of the car surprised my preconceived notions
of Hyundai quality. It's competing class vehicles are the Chrysler 300C, Mercedes Benz E550,
and Lexus LS 460. Comparing it to those cars, I can't beleive it, but I have to say they made
a great contender. My personal feelings are that the center dash looked controls looked a little
too much like a portable radio, but overall the interior materials and finish was very nice.
Hyundai really made a huge effort at this event to show what it could do. This car
Didn't have any markings on it because it's a prototype sport compact. I saw a journalist
stretching the cars boosted legs in a huge burnout. Maybe it will be back next year for
all of us to drive. I went away from this event with new appreciation for Hyundai.
The Jaguar's brought were powerful and well refined on the track and on the street.
This was the first time I had driven a Jaguar in the last 15 years and I have a new
appreciation for them. Don Dang was nice enough to fix a flat tire so we could
drive the Supercharged convertible XKR on both track days. Thanks!
The Lexus cars were fun on the street and the track. I drove the SC on the
track. It was underpowered compared to the more expensive cars at the event
but it was a blast to put through the paces. The IS350 had the awesome F Sport
package which looked great. If it weren't a street driver only car I would
have been able to test its abilities. The street drive showed that it had
plenty of power in a straight line to get you in a heap of trouble and the
brakes worked extremely well. It turned a lot of heads during the drive.
I drove this supercharged Lotus around the grounds in the last minutes of the
event. It definitely felt like a go-cart on steroids. I never stood in line
long enough to go on the road course with the two designated for the road course.
The Mazdaspeed 3 was one of the few manual transmission cars at the event. It was a
high energy car that was fun on the road course and surprisingly nimble. I'm impressed.
The Mitsubishi Turbocharged Lancer Ralliart was a blast to drive. It took some getting
used to the the clutchless transmission when stopping abruptly from high-RPM's. I wish I
had spent a little more time driving it on the street. It performed well in the autocross
event. It had loads of power and was fun to drive on the street as well as being a
I've never given Land Rover much thought before, but after after driving one on the street
street and being educated by Kim Daniel and Nicole about the ride level controlls and other
options, I have a new appreciation for them. I didn't really get on the gas, but the supercharger
felt like it was waiting for some fun. It would have been fun to take off-road somewhere.
Here are some details on this one...
Type: DOHC V8. Aluminum-alloy cylinder heads and block
Displacement: 4.2-liters (256 cu. in./4,197 cc)
Bore: 3.39 in. (86.0 mm)
Stroke: 3.56 in. (90.3 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.1:1
Horsepower @ rpm: 390 bhp @ 5,750 rpm
Torque @ rpm: 410 lb.-ft. @ 3,500 rpm
Fuel management: Sequential multi-port fuel injection
Fuel requirements: Premium unleaded
The 4.2-liter supercharged and intercooled V8 uses thicker-walled cylinder liners for extra block
rigidity, necessitating a slightly smaller bore size. A belt-driven Eaton supercharger delivers a
maximum 11.6-psi of boost pressure. Twin air-to-coolant heat exchangers cool the pressurized intake
charge en route to the cylinders. The supercharged V8 delivers a hearty 390 hp at 5750 rpm and 410 lb-ft
of torque at a useful 3500 rpm.
This was the coolest Mustang I've ever driven. The Supercharged Shelby GT500 was a blast
to drive. After driving so many FWD and AWD cars it was like going back to my roots with
overpowered RWD American Musclecars. On the road course I could tell the tires were on the
edge of adhesion, just waiting for a little more input so the rear could come around. :)
The Passat CC was a blast to drive on the road course. It's bigger and much faster than
my wife's 2003 Passat. Maybe it's time to trade up!
Here's some of the cars we had to choose from. Basically, you walk up to a car, get in...
and take it for a spin. There were stickers that designated track or street. The track
cars were always in higher demand. I wonder why? :)