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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Archive for September 2011

Speed dating with cars @ Run to the Sun Part 1

 

 
Run to the Sun is a magical event that proves the car god’s love us and want us to be happy. After working the smell of passion from a Lotus Evora S a friendly gent from Ford invites you into a 2012 Mustang Boss 302.

“Don’t do anything crazy,” he says, “but we’re here to have fun.”

For the next twenty miles it’s not kosher to let the Mustang’s 440hp engine dip below 4,000rpm. She growls an angry song and begs for more, more, more all the way up to her 7,500rpm redline. 

On this stretch of Highway 2 in the Snoqualmie National Forest there’s little reason to worry about a cop ruining the fun. Ford’s PR guy rides shotgun and recites technical information about the car through a giddy smile as we break 100mph like it’s nothing. 

Technically we’re both at work, but most guys dream of spending their retirements this way.
Before the ride can reach a full-blown joygasm the trip odometer warns we’re supposed to exit the highway into a ranger station at 23.4 miles from our last stop for the next car exchange.

We rumble into the empty parking lot. I kill the engine and we exchange business cards. After all the high-octane noise it’s dead silent in the forest now.

A tumbleweed of Evergreen tree branches rolls lazily across the two-lane pavement. 

Half a minute later the other twenty four press cars appear on the horizon and stream into the parking lot in a disjointed flash convoy:

-Acura TL SH-AWD
-Audi A6
-Audi A7
-BMW 650i Convertible 
-Cadillac CTS-V Coupe 
-Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible 
-Chrysler 200C
-Dodge Charger SRT-8
-Fiat 500 Convertible 
-Honda Civic SI Coupe
-Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec
-Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
-Kia Optima Turbo 
-Lexus IS-F
-Lotus Evora S
-Mazda 5
-Mazda RX-8
-Mercedes-Benz CLS63
-Mercedes-Benz SLK350
-Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
-Suzuki Kizashi 
-Volkswagen Beetle Turbo
-Volkswagen EOS
-Volvo S60 R-Design

Auto journalists sprout from the vehicles in tandem with the cars’ ride-along PR reps. Business cards explode into the air like confetti as the journalists make their way to the next vehicle on their list. 

Back in the cars journalists shake hands with another PR rep and the procession roars back onto the highway and out of sight.

Stunned hikers immerge from their hiding places in the thicket to compare pictures of the happening on their iPhones. 

Run to the Sun carried on this way for two days straight in 15-20 mile increments until every journalist, columnist, blogger, vlogger and auto media generalist in attendance had the chance to experience each car on the list. Needless to say there were a few stories that arose from the event that bear repeating. 

Stay Tuned.
 
 

The Inland Northwest’s claim to automotive glory

 

There are several, and they are impressive. One involves Craig T. Nelson. If that doesn’t spark your interest, for a glorious while Richland, Washington was the birthplace of the world’s fastest production car. Read on kind Washingtonian. 

SHELBY SUPER CARS 

Few would have thought the car to knock the Bugatti Veyron from its throne as the world’s fastest production automobile would be conceived in Richland, Washington. Shelby Super Cars, not to be confused with Carol Shelby, calls the Tri-Cities home.

In 2007 their Ultimate Aero recorded an official top speed of 257mph on a closed stretch of highway outside of Richland, Washington, besting the previous record held by the Veyron.

View clips of the record-setting run here:

http://tinyurl.com/42jl56q


In keeping with its thoroughbred American ethos, the Ultimate Aero maximizes power from a twin turbocharged 6.35 liter V8 producing 1287hp, not a pony of which is filtered through the safety net of traction control or anti-lock brakes.

The Europeans became so jealous of the SSC Ultimate Aero’s title of world’s fastest car they cocked their berets to an even snootier camber and churned out the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to reclaim the top honor. Top Gear Magazine noted:

“Most of all, here’s the single fact that gives SSC credibility: that the vast Volkswagen group built the Veyron Super Sport for the explicit purpose of winning the record back. Goliath was not only admitting that David existed, but felt it necessary to take up his almighty cudgel against David’s catapult.” (1) 

YAKIMA RIDGE RUNNERS

The world’s first official Jeep club was formed shortly after the conclusion of World War II in Yakima, Washington.(2) If that sounds like a wild claim, watch this video of the Ridge Runners bouncing around the Snoqualmie National Forest in a pack of CJ2a’s - the first civilian Jeep to be sold to the public after the war:

http://tinyurl.com/3uu2eqa


Although the exact year of the footage is unknown, you’ll notice the attire of the folk in the video combined with their near constant chain smoking implies it was shot sometime in the late forties to early fifties.

In 1965 the Runners’ club drew the attention of legendary Northwest newscaster Don McCune. He rode along with the gang on a voyage over Naches Pass – an Indian trail that’s regarded as the oldest route across the cascades:

http://tinyurl.com/3pd5y9r


Several decades later the Yakima Ridge Runners had grown into a venerable pack of Jeep enthusiasts recognized as pioneers of the genre itself. In 1977 they hosted the Yakima Mud Bowl. A crowd of 8,000 came to see competitors slog it out for a $4,000 purse:

Part 1 - http://tinyurl.com/4xap4au


Part 2 - http://tinyurl.com/3oy5jq5


CRAIG T. NELSON

That’s right; Craig T. Nelson is a Spokane native and loves to race cars. His first official foray into the word of auto racing came in 1991 when he entered the Toyota Celebrity Long Beach Grand Prix and finished third. 

Riding high on the success of the hit show “Coach”, he founded Screaming Eagles Racing in 1994. Motor Trend caught up with the Craigster on the set of Coach in 1997 to talk about cars:

Q: What did you drive as a teenager?

A: I had a '56 Ford, and my first car was a '49 Chevy. I converted it to a stick and used to race with the other high school kids down along the river.(3)

Chances are that river was the Spokane River. Several roads snake along its twisty shores which undoubtedly provided an exciting raceway for a teenage Craig T Nelson to frequent with his gearhead buddies and their American Graffiti-esque hotrods. 

THE SPOKANE BOAT CAR

It’s hard to believe anyone would look at their 1994 Chrysler Le Baron convertible and hope for more. Spokane resident Tim Lorentz did just that, but he wasn’t thinking of upgrading to a Lincoln. His idea was to slice the bottom off the hull of a fiberglass boat and attach it to the top his Le Baron to create a boat car.

“I just have always been an idea person,” he said. “I think I'm a little bit off kilter.”(4)

There’s no way to know if the boat car would be able to keep up with Craig T Nelson’s high school hotrod, but it’s safe to say both rides would be in trouble if they ventured into the Spokane River. 

“People want to know if it will float,” Lorentz said. “I tell them, ‘Yeah, it'll float, for a second.”

Despite its Ironic lack of buoyancy, Lorentz’s creation can’t help but garner appreciation on ventures around the streets of Spokane.

“People will thumbs up, clap, wave or smile,” he said, “and people who don't notice the boat shouldn't be driving - they're not aware of their surroundings.”

Not one to quit after his first boat car, Lorentz recently purchased a 1987 stretch limousine.

Could there be a Cruise Liner floating around the streets of Spokane in the near future?

The Inland Northwest automotive saga continues.

SOURCES
(1)www.shelbysupercars.com/ 
(2)http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2009/07/28/vintiques-to-roar-into-town
(3)http://www.motortrend.com/features/archive/112_9707_craig_t_nelson_interview/viewall.html (4)http://www.khq.com/story/11979413/car-boat-hybrid-sails-through-spokane-streets?redirected=true 

PICTURE
edyotai93.blogspot.com

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About this blog

Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.

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