Revenge fo the Electric Car: Tesla IPO and the Future

Behind the wheel of a Tesla at the Detroit Auto Show, 2009
Hi folks -- as many of you have heard, the Tesla IPO yesterday proved to be the one bright spot during an otherwise dismal day on Wall Street. A few years ago I was very much in to learning about Tesla, as I hosted at UD Chelsea Sexton, one of the key characters in Chris Paine's documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" And while I have not driven a Tesla -- I did sit in one at the Detroit Auto Show in 2009 -- I did see one up close at Paine's home back when.

Yes, the Tesla roadster is expensive, and has a limited market, and there are some other drawbacks as well. And to be sure, the next model, a sedan that ill cost some 50k if projections are right, is still in the distnace. But Tesla has engineering technology that no one else owns, and Tesla has all the organizational energy that is lacking in Michigan. Telsa has "Iron Man" Elon Musk at the top of its leadership, and it is doubtful that anyone at the Detroit Three has that kind of panache. Analyst Mary Ann Keller, certainly knowledgable and an industry insider at the very highest level, argues that future of Tesla is perilous, as it must compete in a tough automobile, not technology marketplace. And maybe she is right.

The issue here is really economy of scale. If the battery-powered electric can achieve high volume production, then costs and prices will come down. But can that level be reached? The auto industry has a long history, after reaching maturity, of squashing outside. Just think about Tucker, Crosley, Kaiser-Frazier, and other entrants.

What could change the entire game however is what may happen in the Middle East. One wrong move against Iran -- might bring the whole internal combustion engine/gasoline matrix down on its knees. And Tesla will be there with an alternative technology ready to fill the gap.

How can we have true financial reform if automobile dealers are excluded from the Bill that President Obama will sign on July 4!!

Hi folks -- more smoke and mirrors from the federal government! The financial reform bill hailed as a great victory by the Obama Administration and for the American consumer excludes auto dealers -- those who actually write up 80% of all loans issued to the public. The dealers have Congress in their pockets, and consequently this Bill, which is seen as placing new rules in place that will reign in the banks, does actually very little in terms of changing the lives of ordinary Americans and their most common financial dealings. So it goes back to the old question of who owns this government? Not you and me, because we haven't paid for it! It is the lobbyists and their backers that hold the purse strings, and the Obamaites wants to make us feel that we are gaining new freedoms, when in actuality we are more manipulated than ever.

New Racer 250LM

This model will be the third limited numbered edition coded as RCR G3
and will be produced in just 203 pcs.

250LM - N.A.R.T. - Daytona 24hrs 1970 - Chinetti Jr./ Young

Brian's Dairyland

It was quite a bit shorter than the full 11 stages that began last Thursday in Shorewood and ended today in Waukesha. I also didn't get any chocolate milk or a spotted cow jersey, but my own tour of Wisconsin included plenty of cheese, Spotted Cow beer, and lots of fun racing.

After transferring all my gear from the I-Go Honda to the O'Hare rental and kissing Patty goodbye, I was on my way to Greenbush, Wisc. for the stage 8 road race in the Tour of America's Dairyland. Light traffic and a 7am departure netted me a great parking spot on the grass two full hours before race time.

Randy and Luke arrived as I spun and sweated on the trainer, even in the less humid, lower temperatures. It was going to be a perfect day for racing, in lots of sunshine, and I was very excited to be in the same 35+ Masters field as these experienced and wily vets. The only snag of the morning was finding a definite hole in my racing tubulars after hemming and hawing about a slow leak the night before. Oh well, SRAM was present for neutral support, just one more PRO aspect of an apparently very well run series.

Our 50ish-sized field rolled out on time, just behind the Pro/1/2 field, and neither Luke or I were familiar with the course, beyond what people had told us about from last year. But, even then, the 10-mile lap was reversed this year, so we'd just have to ride out and experience the first couple of laps and hope nothing got away before then.

The course profile went something like this, if memory serves:

A short uphill followed by a steep drop, then another up and down roller. Here, you had to be careful of the hot tar strips, very hard to see on the new blacktop. Very squishy, and your rear end fish tailed at the high speeds going downhill over them. Then a left turn and a false flat, followed by a quick drop, another fast left turn, a couple rollers, then downhill to a right hand hairpin turn. Here it got interesting with a series of uphill stairsteps which led to a fun downhill series of banking turns through thick forest (watch out for those potholes). This shot out onto rough chip and seal pavement through farm fields, which brought back the wind, and then turned left into it. The downhill speed quickly slowed and the pack bunched as riders looked to move up for the final series of downhill, banking turns, back through the trees and then into town.

Immediately riders were attacking but couldn't get away. The pack could chase too easily on the downhill, and there wasn't enough support that early on through the headwind. Much of the time the pace was downright comfortable and it seemed everybody was taking it pretty easy, saving energy for the hills or attacks later in the final laps.

Out on the chip and seal on the 4th lap, I was moving up when I heard Randy call me over. "Luke's off the front!" he semi-whispered. This caught me completely by surprise as I still thought he was behind me, but you all know how much I pay attention in races. Sure enough, there also must've been IS Corp in the break because they were up blocking and a dedicated chase was forming as soon as I moved to the front to do our part.

I sandbagged on two hard chase efforts, but coming through to start the final two laps, the break had slipped out of view, and the field's speed came down to almost leisurely for much of the next time around.

The final lap was a bit more competitive, especially up the rollers, where I really had to fight to keep my position and not to cramp. Through the twisty downhill section and out in the crosswind, Randy came by tapping my hip and we moved up to the front before the pack bunched up, where we held a great position. However, he was on the outside, while I remained up against the yellow, which was my undoing amidst the final argy-bargy of the last two miles. A lot of sketchy moves came past my left, squeezing me further and further and back.

If those guys really wanted to pull that shit for a 6th place $50 check, they could have it. I still had to go to work on Monday. Randy managed to hold his position and finish 7th in the field sprint, for 11th overall. I came in at the back for 37th, and heard Luke on the sideline giving me an encouraging yell.

4th place for him, out of a final five-man break. What a stellar result in such a talented and stacked field as an open Masters race! The man is crafty as hell, and can be counted on to find the one place on the course to make the move that counts. In this case, on those stair-step hills, and then leverage the wind and the blocking behind to get out of sight.

After saying our goodbyes over the requisite post-race Culver's, I was on my way to overnight in Milwaukee at my cousin Rick's place on the northwest side of the city. Friday I'd be headed back to Fon Du Lac, but tonight was dinner, beers, and visiting.

Rick met me at his house and we went and got some pretty good Mexican food, fish tacos for me:

After which we each got a haircut at his regular place, where they offered us a glass of wine while we waited, and I also got some locally roasted organic coffee. The woman who cut my hair, Christinia, was a triathlete and we talked bikes the whole time.

The next morning after Rick left for work, I spent a few hours at Milwaukee's successful local coffee chain, Alterra, over some housemade granola and a pot of French-press:

Then I departed for Fon Du Lac, the site of the series' stage 9 criterium, and to meet former teammate and good friend Rick Dearworth for lunch before the race.

The Fon Du Lac Grand Prix has been around for many years in one series or another, and is famous for it's fast speeds, with the long home- and backstretches. Today's trip past the start-finish would be blazing as well, with the tailwind down Main Street.

I was the only XXX-er in the field, along with a few other solo riders, including a Wisc.-based Pegasus rider who'd had some success in the series, and the venerable Voytek Glinkowski, of WBD-Allvoi. Verizon and IS Corp had several riders each, so I'd be watching their moves in the headwind of the backstretch.

It was a very dynamic race. Attacks were constantly going off in the wind, and the field was either chasing, or giving out the hangman's rope, and then chasing. I managed to be in a couple of early attempts and bridges, but midway through the race I found myself at the back recovering when the real assaults came.

Rick and Jared Rogers (who'd raced earlier) screamed at me to move up, but the chase was committed and wicked fast between laps 15 to go though seven or eight to go. I could only hang on to the end and try for another chance when, and if, it slowed. The good thing was that it was completely single file the entire time, so there was no rubberband effect, even at the end.

No brakes, just breaks.

(photo by John Gray)

Coming up on six to go, the field slowed just enough with indecision that I was able to move up and hear the announcer say, "Field prime! Set of tires to the field, starting with Triple X rider number eight-sixty-nine!" I had no intention of contesting a prime while leading the start of the lap, and after turn two I got out of the saddle for a medium intense effort to keep the pace up for the chase. I was waiting for the jump, and when none came, I looked behind and saw a huge gap.

Talk about the right place at the right time. IS Corp was blocking, the field was tired, and I'd just ridden away. I took the prime with five to go and started thinking about my chances to bridge up. I could see them about a quarter lap up, and I couldn't let the pack catch me.

(photo by John Gray)

The break was shedding a few riders, which I then caught, worked with for a half-lap or so, and dropped in the head wind. Approaching one to go, I was with one final rider, who, from the depths of my pain cave I can't remember, either bridged to me or I caught him.

Either way, I pulled though turns 1 and 2, and into the wind, then shook him off my wheel and fought his gap effort to come though turn four in perfect position for a pounce. Which I of course botched. I waited too long, with me just behind him; we started sprinting at the same time, and that's how we ended up, 7th and 8th.

"Sorry for screwing you," he said. "That's racing, dude. Great sprint!" I replied. I was pretty happy, feeling the 100% effort and having salvaged a top ten in a bridge attempt after having missed the move, not to mention avoiding having to go shopping for tires for a while longer.

Rick and I enjoyed a Spotted Cow together and watched the Women's Pro race from the AC comfort of the corner bar along the course, and then said our goodbyes.

I was in the town my parents grew up in, Kenosha, two hours later, despite all the construction and Summerfest traffic, to greet my dad and stepmom, and my aunt and uncle at their house. We enjoyed a classic lakefront Friday fishfry and cocktails and spent the night catching up.

After a morning active recovery ride to the lakefront, checking out the Superweek criterium course and getting some espresso, the next day we attended the family picnic in Madison. This long-running reunion includes Baers, O'Keefes, and Scharches, in addition to the Morrisseys. It was my dad's first time attending in probably 40 years, and it's been going on for longer than that. It was complete with several rounds of bocci and one dude bringing a full martini set up. But since I was driving, I had to wait until I got home for that much needed beer to end a pretty long day.

It was a pricey weekend to be sure, but a chance like that to merge family and racing can't be missed. I probably won't be racing again until the very end of Superweek, in Kenosha at the end of July. The Tour of America's Dairyland was an excellent series for the small portion of it that I experienced, and I definitely will try to plan next year's visit around the family picnic again.

Jensen and Lewis build a McLaren

A funny McLaren video and a commercial worth watching.

A Great Happy Brithday to Me! The Kettering Cruise-In, June 25! Pictures of dashes from a 1948 Ford, 1956 Corvette, 1959 Thunderbird, 1964 Riviera

The cruise-in folks who get there early!
From a 1948 Ford
From a 1956 Corvette
From a 1959 Thunderbird
From a 1964 Buick Riviera

OK, I am a little vain to wish myself a happy birthday. But it does mark another year on planet earth, and for that I am very grateful. I try to use the birthday as a way of getting out of doing work around the yard, but it did eventually catch up with me today (June 26). Boy, do I hate using the weed-wacker!
Anyway, I had the chance to get down early to the Kettering cruise-in yesterday, and I never regret making the stop, even if only for a few minutes. There was only one other Porsche that I saw there, a freshly painted 914, although it look like it had a previous hard life on the streets.

Attached are a few photos of cars that struck me as interesting. Note that I am focusing on dashes this time around, perhaps because of Dr. Garten's previous post on my blog.

New Slot It Porsche 956KH

Photos of a car that Slot It is going to release in the 4th quarter of this year.

Slot It SICA09D-Porsche 956KH
MSRP $59.99

1st Place Mugello 1983 drivers S.Johansson and B. Wollek

FIA GT1-Paul Richard preview

After Abu Dhabi, Great Britain and the Czech Republic, the FIA GT1 World Championship is heading to France. And more particularly the south of France, and the beautiful, distinctive Paul Ricard HTTT circuit, at Le Castellet. The glorious sight of the magnificient GT1 cars heading round the challenging circuit, encircled by blue and red stripes, should herald the start of the summer, and hopefully the sun will accompany the new World Championship throughout the weekend.

After three rounds, Matech Competition drivers Romain Grosjean and Thomas Mutsch lead the Drivers classifications after their Brno win, while Vitaphone Racing Team lead the Teams, their drivers Bartels and Bertolini being the only ones to have scored points in each race so far. But the Paul Ricard has a reputation as a Corvette circuit, so who will emerge victorious on Sunday ? There will be plenty of French interest, with Stéphane Sarrazin racing for Hexis AMR, Olivier Panis joining Matech Competition, and Christophe Bouchut returning to All Münnich Motorsport.

As well as two exciting one-hour FIA GT1 World Championship races, the Paul Ricard HTTT welcomes the FIA GT3 European Championship, which is moving into the second half of the 2010 season. Two weeks ago in Jarama, victory went to Team Rosberg’s Audi R8 LMS and to the Need for Speed BMW Z4. But the Corvette teams and drivers are leading the points, after a dominant start to the season. Callaway’s Hohenadel and Keilwitz lead by 31 points – but with 25 for a win, nothing is decided yet.

The full timetable will also include two races from the GT4 European Cup, and three from the exciting Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo. The GT4 European Cup has raced in Silverstone and Spa so far this season, setting up a close battle between the Aston Martin GT4 cars of Paul Meijer (Rhesus Racing) and Michael Mallock (RJN Motorsport), who have shared this season’s wins. As for the roar of the powerful Lamborghini cars, Peter Kox leads the points. The Dutch driver will have a busy weekend, as he also competes for Reiter in the FIA GT1 World Championship.

The weekend is more than just racing, with plenty of off-track entertainment for spectators, autograph sessions, grand prix simulators, flights over the track in a helicopter and plenty of beautiful GT cars on display, as well as a play area for children. Let the sun shine on !

Photos and news used with permission from the FIA GT1 World Championship.

New Carrera websites

There are a few new websites for Carrera. The updated URL for the Carrera of America page is linked here.

Also as I've noted on a number of sites I've started a Facebook page for Carrera of America as well, if you're a member of Facebook why not join the page. Also there will be a newsletter started for CoA as well. When I have a link to sign up I'll post that as well here on SCNews.

New Sloting Plus parts

SLPL 2202 motor Speed 2 21.000 rpm + pinion Z11
SLPL 40116908 Universal wheel 16.9 x 8.5 mm. front and rear
SLPL 090110 inserts + brake disc
SLPL 2252 rear and SLPL 2255 front
SLPL 9142 spacer inox. 0.6 mm.
Crown gear
SLPL 8032 Crown gear Z32
SLPL 1015 bearing special RYD
SLPL 2101 cable silicone 1.2 mm. diameter

SLPL 2005 Braids cutted 3 cm
SLPL 2130 guide standard with screw
Rear wing
SLPL 090105 rear wing 2 KQ

Measures and weights
Complete car weight 84 g
Decorated body weight 15 g
Rear wing weight 1 g

Review: Cook au Vin

A few months ago, Patty bought two 2-for-1s on Groupon for a cooking school on Elston Ave, Cook au Vin. I’d not heard anything about it, so it was only a curiosity on my several rides past it over the past five years.

We decided to make a double-date out of it with her friend Emily and her husband Marcus. Once we agreed upon the menu choice – French onion soup, coq au vin (chicken and wine), scalloped potatoes, crème brulee – the date was set for this past weekend, Sunday afternoon.

I arrived first on my bike, with a couple bottles I’d just picked up from Wine Discount Center just down the street; very helpful, those folks. In 10 minutes I was set up with a bottle each of Bordeaux and Vouvray, total cost of under $60. I waited in the sunshine a bit for the doors to be unlocked at the appropriated time of 3 pm.

Right on schedule the door clicked open, and Chef Amanda welcomed me inside to the cool air-conditioning. I was impressed at how clean everything was. And that, despite the vast amounts of cooking equipment within, there was still an inviting amount of space, especially around the dining table and prep area; both a dining-experience and user-friendly.

Amanda immediately opened my red bottle after suggesting we chill the white and pair it with the chicken, and I let it breathe while waiting for everyone else to arrive. It was the prefect complement to the bleu and goat cheeses, plus the chorizo and grapes on the appetizer plate offered.

We started with the dessert first, since the crème brulee first needs to bake, then chill. Amanda gave easy to understand instructions and key visual queues; such as suggesting we notice the color the egg yolks become as we whisked in the sugar (pale yellow is the ideal). She never lost her professional air and smile, even while I constantly ADD’d through the entire exercise, missing lots of steps and direction. The smell of the real vanilla beans being hollowed out was almost as intoxicating as a bottle of extract, and soon we had our dessert dishes filled and ready for the oven.

Her little cook’s secrets added a ton of value to the class. One such tip is to place all the dessert bowls in a tray of water for a steam bath while baking. This keeps the crème brulee (or other desserts, such as cheesecake) smooth and free of caking and clumping. She was a great leader who had an entire team of four couples working together.

The French onion soup prep was just as easy. Onions sliced, garlic minced, and into the pot they went with lots of butter. Again, Amanda’s color cues helped out, and it was easy to tell when we needed to add more onion. This particular recipe was modified from the traditional, very filling one with which we are all very familiar. To keep everyone’s hunger stoked for the chicken and potatoes, we next added broth to the onion and garlic, and then set it aside to simmer. Rather than baking each bowl with large amounts of cheese and bread, we next made lightly-cheese-crusted toast points, with sliced French bread, to add to the soup just before eating.

Next we mixed up whole milk and heavy cream, while others sliced large brown baking potatoes and minced fresh garlic. We layered all of it, garlic first, then the potatoes, topped with a level of cream, finally salt and pepper, until the baking dish was filled. It was topped with a couple sprigs of thyme, and away it went to bake.

Since the chicken needed to be marinated a minimum of six hours prior to final prep, the initial roasting was already done, and set to work with a large, cold container filled with the birds, carrots & onion, and red wine. There was still plenty left for us to do.

First, the chicken came out and went into a pan with butter and oil. Another cook’s tip: the flavor of butter, with the higher temperature of oil, without burning. Then Amanda had us add the veggies from the marinade, and get some searing going on. Once we had the browning and heat, we transferred the meat and veggies to a larger dish, and we reduced several ladlefuls of the wine down, finally adding some flour in with a whisk for body. When it was smooth and thick, we poured the mixture over the chicken, carrots, and onion, and then put in the over to finish cooking through.

My stomach rumbled and grumbled more and more through the whole process, but Chef Amanda kept us on track. I only snacked from the left over appetizer plate a couple times, but Patty and I did finish of the Bordeaux fairly quickly. Finally we could sit down and eat what we’d been slaving over. I popped open the chilled bottle of vouveray, my hand becoming wet in its condensation.

I’ll simply let the pictures speak for themselves. Our toast? "Salud, Groupon!"

First course:

These were pretty damn good:



The complete picture:

Using fire is always fun!


Toyota test driver dies in accident in LFA on Autobahn

Numerous reports have mentioned that Toyota’s chief test driver, Hiromu Naruse, died in a head-on collision on Wednesday in Germany. Video shows the accident scene reportedly near Toyota's shop near the Nurburgring.

Video is in German but you get the gist of it.

Special edition Racer Ford P68

A special edition Racer Ford P68 has been made by Racer for Great Traditions in Philadelphia for the Racer Resin National Final race for 2010. There were 50 total cars made, 25 of each of the 2 sets of names on the cars. They're sure to be highly collectible because of the small production run.

Check out the drivers names... it was sure a surprise to see my name on one of these cars!

Blog Archive