You may have been wondering why it’s been so long since the last post, so here goes the explanation. The Full Throttle Times is packing its bags and moving over to a new site called Hairpin Corner. There you will find very similar content that you may have grown used to over the past few months, just with a new site title. And background. And format.
I just want to thank you for all your support for FTT over the recent months, and I hope you enjoy Hairpin Corner. Tell all your friends who may be interested in it to check it out! Hope you enjoy it!
‘They don’t make any sense.’ These are the words that ever non-car enthusiast has spoken whenever I am trying to explain my love for stupidly powerful cars. And you know what? They are absolutely right. Now before you go off and begin to question my petrolhead status, take a moment and think about it. What’s the point of having a 600 horsepower monster of a car of which you are only willing to use 40% of the overall performance? What’s the point of paying over $100,000 for a car that’ll probably end up taking your life? What’s the point of buying ‘the perfect track-day tool’ (as the car’s brochure suggests) when the majority of your lap time will be spent going sideways, beginning to go sideways, or backwards because you went to far sideways?
However, while there may be absolutely no point nor a single sane reason to purchase such a psychopathic box of metal one can not deny the fact that the world is in a better place because of their existence. Take the Pagani Zonda Cinque, for example. On paper, the Cinque looks to be the motoring equivalent of the electric chair. 678 horsepower, 575 lb-ft of torque, rear-wheel-drive, a wet sponge… It’s all so many numbers, and so many things that could go terribly, terribly wrong. And while such a description would appear to be a buyer repellent, there are still customers with a need for speed and deep pockets. But why? Is it because these maniacal one-percenters have a death wish or is there actually a legitimate method to their madness?
Mario Andretti once said that ‘If you have everything under control, you’re not moving fast enough.’ Putting this into the context of a supercar, and you can realize why many, including myself (even though it’s not likely that I’ll ever be able to afford such a car), absolutely love cars with enough torque to send the planet ten minutes back in time. Piloting a car with tear-jerking performance numbers at 60 mph shares the same thrill of taking your Subaru Impreza WRX STi to a trackday: it’s the sheer excitement that is provided by contolling something (or, as far as Andretti is concerned, trying to control) on the absolute edge.
So, what should you say the next time someone asks you why anyone would ever want a machine that could potentially kill them? Tell them it’s because of the pure, unadulterated excitement. The thrill of not only stepping out of the car alive but also having had the greatest drive of you life. It’s because there aren’t all that many other things out there that can put such a large smile on your face. Or ask them why people even buy guns in the first place.
When the wraps for the all-new Chevrolet C7 Corvette Stingray came off in January, car enthusiasts across the globe, particularly Corvette enthusiasts, were itching to see the all-new ‘Vette in action. And now, a few months and Chevrolet promo videos later, the wait is finally over as Car & Driver and MotorTrend have finally gotten their hands on the all-new leather-trimmed Corvette steering wheel. Enjoy.
Jason Leffler. Allan Simonsen. Andrea Mamé. Outside of the racing world, these three names are unknown, mixed into this spinning melting pot filled with seven billion people. However, in the racing world, these are the names of three brave men who tragically lost their lives whilst living the dream they had chased after for so many years. All these men loved to race. All these men did so with a deep passion. And all these men lost their lives in the month of June, in the year 2013.
It goes without saying that this month has been one of the most tragic ones in the most recent years of motorsport; an emotionally disturbing reminder of just how dangerous this sport we so dearly love actually is.
It began at Montreal with the death of a track marshall on June 9th. While helping to clear Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber after a shunt, the marshall dropped his radio. As he attempted to retrieve it, he was run over by the recovery vehicle and sustained life threatening injuries which he later succumbed to.
It was a shock to the entire Formula 1 paddock, as it was the first death of a track marshall in more than a decade.
Three days later, Jason Leffler, a beloved racer by many — if not all — in the NASCAR garage and fresh from competing in a Sprint Cup race at Pocono, was participating in a dirt track race at Bridgeport Raceway in Swedesboro, New Jersey.
A sudden suspension failure caused his car to spin, impact the wall, and roll over where it eventually landed upright. He was extracted from the car, but unfortunately his injuries were to serious and was pronounced dead shortly after the incident.
Ten days after the heartbreaking death of Leffler, hundreds of thousands of spectators from all walks of life transformed the quiet French countryside into a festival of speed and excitement, almost all of them with the expectations of throwing a twenty-four hour long party. The drivers competing and all who were watching were anxiously awaiting the start of the world’s greatest motor race, the 81st Running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
As the race began, Toyota surprised many, demonstrating a speed which had not been shown during testing and qualifying. The race was shaping up to be one of the greatest races in Le Mans history. Then, however, on the third lap of the race at the Tetre Rouge corner, Allan Simonsen, driver of the #95 Aston Martin GTE-Am car, suffered a horrifying shunt. The Aston Martin Racing garage fell silent as they worried for the condition of their driver. It was not long afterwards that the grim announcement was made that Simonsen had tragically lost his life in the crash.
The race continued, albeit with heavy hearts.
And now, just over a week after the tragic death of Allan Simonsen and only seven days after the conclusion of the great French race, and more tragic news has struck the racing world. On the first lap of a Lamborghini Super Trofeo race at the Paul Ricard circuit, a massive five car accident occurred.
All five drivers were taken to the circuit’s medical center, but there was one driver in particular that received the most worry and attention from the members and doctors of the Super Trofeo racing series. Andrea Mamé suffered serious injuries in the accident. Unfortunately, the extent of these injuries proved to be too perilous for the doctors to treat, and Mamé later succumbed, tragically, to his injuries.
In one month, a mere thirty days out of a year made up of 365, three major deaths have marred the racing community and cast a large, looming black cloud over the sport which so many car enthusiasts love so desperately. However, these tragic deaths only make up part of what has been an extremely somber month in motorsport, as ‘Ring racer Wolf Silvester died of a heart attack during a VLN race on the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, and 70-year-old Jeffrey Bower was also killed at Lime Rock Park when his car missed a turn and impacted a wall in a Formula V racer.
As mentioned before, this month is a reminder of just how dangerous this sport actually is. Due to the latest safety technologies now in use at racing circuits and courses across the globe, we as fans of motorsport have grown incredibly used to witnessing horrendous accidents after which the drivers clamber out of their wrecked race car, brush themselves off, examine the extent of damage to the car, and walk off to the medical vehicle that will take them to the medical center at the track, only to be checked out as fine — although a bit shaken.
This makes it all the more shocking and painful when a crash occurs and a driver is reported as having passed away from the injuries. The response usually includes a hanging of heads, and attempting to comfort ourselves by saying, ‘he passed away doing what he loved.’
While this is very true, it goes without saying that something needs to be done to not only ease the nerves of drivers who will continue to climb into their racing cars week in and week out, but to also lessen the amount of tragedies such as these that occur at races.
You may notice that I say ‘to lessen‘ the amount of such tragedies, as while we may desperately want for drivers to no longer receive serious injuries or lose their lives, the fact of the matter is that this is a dangerous business and, as unfortunate as it may sound, it is inevitable.
What the racing world must do, then, is address as many possibilities for harm as possible. There is absolutely no reason for a track marshall, someone who’s job it is to keep the drivers safe, to experience such harm at a race, especially in the way that it occurred at the Canadian Grand Prix this year on June 9th.
Dirt track races must receive as much attention in regards to safety as do modern NASCAR tracks, as there were both drivers and spectators killed in dirt track accidents in the weeks leading up to Jason Leffler’s tragic accident.
Le Mans has changed its configuration numerous times over the ninety years the circuit has been in existence in the pursuit of safety, therefore the ACO and all who are involved in putting the Le Mans race together and running it as smoothly as it always does are likely already beginning to address what caused Allan’s accident and how they can best prevent similar accidents from occurring.
This is a dangerous business, and also one that can provide a roller coaster of emotions to all who ever turn their attentions toward motorsport. Happiness, excitement, nervousness, and sorrow can all be provided throughout the course of a race — a reality which the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours race very well proved.
However, at the end of the day, there is a reason why drivers, who are completely knowledgeable of how risky this sport can be, get behind the wheel of there vehicles. There is a reason why fans continue to flock to the racing circuit, even after having been warned of the dangers they may face. It’s because we absolutely love motorsport. And there is nothing we can do about that.
R.I.P. Jason, Allan, Andrea, the Montreal track marshall, Wolf, Jeffrey, and all others who have ever been harmed in motorsport.
It’s long been said by petrolheads that the phrase ‘race car for the road’ is overused. The Lotus Exige S, every 911 GT3, the Ariel Atom, the KTM X-Bow, every 911 GT3, the McLaren 12C, the Ferrari 458, every 911 GT3… They’ve all been described as such.
However, one can argue that the only true racers for the road are those that are homologation specials. And it makes sense, after all the purpose of these insane road cars’ existence was to allow the racing versions of them to compete in, well, races.
And in honor of these truly berserk, uncompromised, mouth-wateringly extraordinary road cars, FTT is listing five of the most insane, hair-raising, mouth-watering homologation specials that have ever found their way from the world’s greatest racing circuits to the world’s public roads.
5. Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 and 2.5 16v Cosworth
It’s a shame that this car doesn’t get the recognition it truly deserves. When someone uses the words ’80s’ and ‘DTM’ in the same sentence, the car that first comes to mind is the E30 M3 (more on that later) followed by the 190E Cosworth a bit later. However, the fact of the matter is that this is one of the coolest and best-looking homologation specials that money can buy.
Anytime the name Cosworth is what a car owner uses to announce what type of engine they have the result is almost always spectacular. And this was no different. A 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine was the 185 bhp power plant and revved up to a 7,000 rpm redline, so when you were travelling up through the gears towards the 143 mph top speed, a screaming exhaust note was not only a pleasant sound, it was also quite commonplace.
However, this engine was quite often only enough to allow it to be embarrassed by the more potent E30 M3, and in order to deal with this problem the engine was upgraded to 2.5-liters which allowed the car to produce 195 bhp, much closer to the 200 which was produced in the M3; a 204 bhp car without catalytic converters made it an even worst nightmare for the Bimmer.
4. BMW E30 M3
It seems that every time a new generation of the 3-series is put on the new car market, the world does an Olympic-gold-medal-winning back flip in anticipation for the resulting 3-series with an ‘M’ badge on the back of it. And what can we thank for the new-M3 frenzy? This thing. This is genesis – the BMW E30 M3.
The E30 M3 is a car which we in the car enthusiast community consider a legend. The second generation of the 3-series and the first generation of M (for Motorsport) cars, the E30 M3 saw a production total of 17,184 cars over the run of five years from 1985 to 1990. The beating heart to the iconic straight-lined body of the M3 was a 2.3-liter inline-four that was capable of producing 200 bhp. Today, 200 horsepower is enough to call a BRZ under powered, but then it was capable of propelling this car to a very respectable 140 mph.
The M3 made a reputation for itself due to its great handling characteristics and butting heads with Mercedes 190E Cosworths on the DTM scene.
3. Porsche 911 GT1
This purpose of this list is to name five homologation specials that are mouth-wateringly cool. However, if the purpose of this list was to name five of the most insane, hair-rasingly rapid cars, this supercar would likely be placed at the top of such a list.
The GT1 racing category of the 1990s was planned as a class in which the world’s supercars could display their performance capabilities. Cars like the McLaren F1, Ferrari F40, and the Jaguar XJ220 were intended to demonstrate just how much performance these super sports cars really had. That’s part of the reason why the racing world was taken by surprise when Porsche pulled the wraps off of an unadulterated purpose-built racecar.
Only 23 of them were built, so it’s not very likely for you to see one on the road today. However, whether you see one on the road or — more likely — in a museum you may as well know why this car will make your mouth salivate.
A twin-turbocharged flat-six engine pumps out 443 lb-ft of torque which, in case you didn’t know, is enough to detonate the road and all surrounding villages in 3.8 seconds — the amount of time it takes for the 911 GT1 to sprint from rest to sixty. The flat-six power plant is also capable of making 544 bhp which is good enough to send you hurtling from one end of the earth to the other at a 191 mph top speed. Couple that with its non-road car looks and it’s no wonder why people were so surprised.
2. Ford RS200
It’s hard for an enthusiast to argue that the Group B rally era did not provide the motoring community with some of the coolest super sports cars ever in existence. And if one decided to take on the daunting task of arguing such an absurd theory, simply uttering the name ‘RS200’ is certainly enough to make that argument obsolete.
As much as you would probably like to think that the road-going Group B supercars were some of the most unadulterated driving machines on earth, you can’t. Sort of. Sitting behind the wheel of the RS200, you may notice how, well, plain it all is — that is unless you notice the red rim that wraps around the steering wheel, that’s a bit unconventional. But while the grey, uber-80s dashboard may seem a bit dull, the car’s performance on the road is by no means boring.
A 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four-cylinder (that’s a mouthful) engine which is good for 250 bhp and a top speed of 118 mph. I’ll admit, 118 mph does not sound like much, but the way the car composed itself around corners is what made it such a success and legend on both the road and rally stage.
1. Audi Quattro Sport
When you think homologation specials it’s almost sacrilege to not think of this car. As I mentioned before, Group B is one of the most awe-inspiring eras of brilliant homologation specials and, taking that into consideration, one can argue that this one takes the cake.
On paper, 304 bhp and a $100,000 price tag seems like a bit of a rip off. However, watch any video of Stig Blomgvist hustling an S1 quattro through a forest in Europe and the fact that only 220 were made and suddenly a road version of that car seems unbelievably enviable. The 300-plus horsepower was the result of an all-aluminum 2.1-liter straight-five engine with a massive KKK turbocharger hooked up to it.
While the all-wheel drive system helped the rally version to dominate international stages, while on the road car it helped to send the quattro from rest to sixty in 4.8 seconds; may have been a bit, no, a lot faster if it weren’t for the stubborn turbo lag. And after the turbos (eventually) kicked in and sixty miles an hour was reached the car would keep on chugging toward the horizon at a top speed of 155 mph. Fast today, even faster in the 1980s.