A speed-centric charity event at the Canadian Forces Base in Cold Lake, Alberta, last weekend pitted a variety of super-cars in top speed runs on the base's long runways, highlighted by a drag race between an F-18 Hornet and a modified 860-hp Ferrari Enzo.
Drivers paid $1,500 for the rare opportunity to drive their Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati (MC12!), Porsche or other high-performance vehicle to its top speed on one of the longest patches of pavement in the country (it was $2,000 if they wanted to bring a passenger). Spectators were sold tickets to watch the event, with the proceeds going to four different charities.
The real cost of car ownership
The event was organized by Lt.-Col. Rob Carter and ZR Auto, a Calgary exotic car dealer and tuning shop. It allowed owners to experience their cars' ultimate performance without having to worry about safety, tickets or car-confiscation penalties. The drivers received specialized training and practice sessions, while the weekend of events included a car show and parade, and an appearance by the Snow Birds four-plane PR team.
But the highlight of the event was the Grand Finale, which pitted the F-18 Hornet in a drag race against the mean yellow twin turbocharged Ferrari Enzo, run by ZR Auto owner Zahir Rana. Rana told the Edmonton Journal that the car has reached 392 km/h in testing in Germany, which is about 50 km/h faster than the takeoff speed of a fully loaded Airbus A330 airliner.
Large screens were set up with video feeds from inside the cockpits of both speed machines, allowing spectators to see what such acceleration and speed looks like from the pilot and driver's point of view. One hundred cars were allowed into the event, which benefited the Military Families Support Society, Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation, Bonnyville Health Foundation and Hearts for Health Care.
DISABLED SOLDIERS TO RACE IN TARGA NEWFOUNDLAND
Retired Canadian Forces general Lewis MacKenzie will manage a team running in the Targa Newfoundland.
The team will be running a 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD in support of the Soldier On Fund, a trust fund established by the Canadian Forces to improve the quality of life of ill and injured soldiers through fitness and sports.
Master Corporal Jody Mitic and Corporal Andrew Knisley, who were severely wounded in the war in Afghanistan, will be piloting the TL through more than 2,000 kilometres of twisty Newfoundland roads over six days of morning to night driving. Their injuries have left the pair with just three arms and one leg between them, the use of prosthetic limbs helping them to drive and navigate the tricky course.
Sponsored by Honda Canada and the Acura Dealers of Canada, the goal is to help raise $150,000 for the fund through its site at www.SoldierOn.ca and various team activities during Targa Newfoundland, which runs September 11-18. Daily updates on all Targa entrants can be found during the event at www.targanewfoundland.com.
HYBRIDS IN OVERSUPPLY DUE TO SALES SLUMP
Honda Canada denies the Civic Hybrid and the new-for-2010 Insight hatchback had been pulled from the Canadian market, but did acknowledge that the company will not be ordering any more of the models for at least the next six months due to oversupply.
Sales of small cars and especially extra-efficient hybrids have literally fallen off the map for Honda, with the notable exception of the two-seat 2011 CR-Z sports coupe that just arrived in early August.
"Honda dealers currently have more than six months supply of these models," said company spokesperson Richard Jacobs in a statement to refute the online report circulating that the company would soon no longer sell these hybrids. "We will monitor demand and order more when demand is there."
The demise of the slow-selling Civic Hybrid would not be entirely unexpected, given that the regular Civic is already overdue for a generation change that's now expected to come near the fall of 2011. But it would be a shocking move for the gas-electric Insight, Honda's Prius-fighter, which was just introduced to Canada in mid-2009 as a small, inexpensive and fuel-efficient hatchback, all traits that are traditionally popular with a large swath of Canadian car buyers.
Even the original Honda Insight lasted much longer than that, at seven years on the market, and that was a two-door two-seater with virtually no cargo room - plus it was far from the prettiest car in the world.
IIHS WANTS MORE FOCUS ON SPEEDERS
A recently released report by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that the U.S. government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is spending too much time and attention on headline-friendly issues such as Toyota defects and distracted drivers, while not enough on less sexy but more dangerous issues such as speeding and red-light running.
"The hyper-visibility of these issues diverts attention from initiatives that have far greater potential to save lives," IIHS president Adrian Lund said in the latest IIHS Status Report. "We need to look for the next big idea like airbags and get it done."
Calling the Toyota quality issues and furor over hand-held cell phone bans "sidetracks," Lund argues that the NHTSA should instead be pushing for lower speed limits, more red-light cameras and more roundabouts instead of traffic lights.
ALL-NEW ESPRIT MAY BE COMING
Big news is coming from Lotus at the Paris auto show in early October; almost every press release from the company in the past month has been highlighting the significance of the announcement it plans for the show.
It's being whipered that the big news will be the rebirth of a Ferrari-fighting Esprit model powered by a version of the Lexus LF-A's monster 552-hp, V-10 motor.
This all-new Esprit would also offer a V-8 engine in its more mainstream versions - quite possibly the IS-F's 416-hp V-8 - according to Edmunds.com.