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Passport, please. Back in the US, it's F1!

Start your engines, wait there's beer?

So next weekend marks the historic return of F1 to the US. Technology companies are banking on its success. Energy companies are banking on its success. Telecoms are banking on its success. Pension funds are literally banking on its success. And yes, the world of autosport is banking on its success.

While no longer sponsored by Fosters Lager (think MillerCoors here in the US), this promises to be an overwhelmingly action and star packed weekend. Collective Soul is playing!?!? Yes! Ron Howard will be there!?!? Yes! A tribute to Leslie, too!?!? Well, maybe not, but our fond regards and warmest wishes to Leslie's memory and eclectic style. We miss you, man!

Savor the sophisticated flavor

This isn't the white trash crowd of NASCAR, think more along the lines of subtle sophistication, it's more high brow, perhaps Lowenbrau. Perhaps not, but we are fans of anything Euro except the actual Euro and we embrace anything resembling Euro trash. Shiny pants and berets aside, the USGP has been absent after 2007 when Bernie Ecclestone declared Indianapolis to be less than ideal (no effin' way, oh that Bernie) and Tony George saw no financial incentive (the Brickyard is bleeding red) to continue hosting the 3-day event. The result? We watched from home and invited friends to our makeshift pubs in hopes of a Schumacher comeback and a maturing of Scott Speed on a re-broadcast courtesy of SpeedTV.

A sad departure, but wait there's more

Schumi retired in 2006 and Speed was no longer seen as "driver development" material in the up and coming Toro Rosso Red Bull team. Instead he had been replaced by test driver Sebastien Vettel. Fast forward, and yes, that same test driver became a 2-time world champion. Under Team Principal, Christian Horner, it's the Infiniti FX50 driving Vettel that has helped to build an outstanding Red Bull team with stablemate and motorcycle stuntman, Aussie Mark Webber. 


Bring it home to Texas (so don't blow it, man)

So the crowd is poised to cheer the return of F1 to the Circuit of the Americas. Austin, Texas plays host to a sold out crowd. A global event, Austin has a great opportunity to showcase everything that it is, and only a faint memory remains of everything that Indianapolis was not. It's a tight race with Vettel poised to take the 2012 F1 championship and Fernando Alonso waiting to reclaim some painful second place career finishes. Both drivers are seeking that third title (Vettel: 2010, 2011; Alonso: 2005, 2006) and it's a battle between the Infiniti branded Renault of Vettel (yes I said branded and not powered by) and the Scuderia burner from Ferrari. 

I am hoping for a Ferrari FF giveaway (and I do love the FF), but I'll be happy with a picture of me, Opie, and the grid girls from SAP! Wait, Ellison is sponsoring this? The grid girls from Oracle it is!  Don't mess this up for us, Larry!

See you there and long live Williams BMW!

2009 In Review and Who has the Next Clunker

In a year of turmoil and financial uncertainty, one thing if for sure, GM still isn't making a profit. To hammer (not Hummer) a point, they failed to successfully negotiate the sale of Saab, not once, but twice. Why is it so hard to market a Swedish car company (when Tiger Woods has brought acute popularity to the country)? It isn't, but low-ball offers met with American stubbornness and the result, the Saab moniker goes the way of the Pontiac, Saturn, and Oldsmobile (remember those).


What does the future hold? If the LA Auto Show was any indicator, then it will be electric vehicles that the public cannot afford. Tesla, not interested. Audi (and I love Audis) may have a near miss with the E-tron. But the Chevy Volt is making its way to not finding its niche in the marketplace.



Hummer is still struggling to cut through the Chinese red tape and complete the sale to Tengzhong Industrial Machinery. So where are the new cars? The Ford Fiesta took a detour thanks to a mid-day siesta courtesy of half-hearted viral marketing and a grass-roots user experience launched by the Red Bull swigging crowd of twenty-somethings. The Taurus is back, however, and in the potent SHO formula, sho-nuff. But with American auto sales down 19% for the year, people seen to be holding on to their vehicles just a little longer. That is unless you own a Toyota. In that case, hold on to your hats! The Japanese powerhouse suffered a black eye of 1980's Audi proportions with their own version of unintended acceleration. Sure it was initially a floor mat problem that ultimately turned out to be bad PR spin when an accelerator issue was found to be the culprit. Toyota reluctantly launched the largest recall in its company's history.


So what does 2010 hold? How about some payback from GM and Chrysler. Remember those billions of dollars thanks to Paulson's TARP program? The American public would like a return on this particular investment, and a discount on a Chrysler with a HEMI that no one wanted in the first place seems like a continuation of cruel and unusual punishment. The only other hemi causing this much discomfort usually comes with a Costco-size dosage of Preparation H. 2010, you have the potential to look up...way up!

The LA Auto Show

Well, I made it. After complaining about the auto show in my hometown, I had the opportunity to attend the LA Auto Show. International and national vehicles debuted at the Los Angeles Convention Center. There is an air of imitation as I can see that this is the best balance in a new breed of sedans masquerading as coupes found in the Mercedes-Benz CLS, BMW 550i Gran Turismo, and yes, the other four-door Porsche, the Panamera. And you know? The offspring of the 928GT didn't look as awkward in person as it had on the printed page. An ugly duckling of sorts, maybe. But would I buy one? A used one? Probably. I was also impressed by Audi's products but a little disappointed in BMW. The X6 M looked eerily like a Pontiac Aztek! Could it be that Pontiac was the true visionary, ahead of its time, and sadly, just a few years too early to save itself from bankruptcy? Well, it was a GM product, and they would have found a way to ruin that success, so probably not.


There were a buzz in the air that wasn't weather induced. Known for its smog, LA actually experienced inclement weather during Friday's show. Was I impressed? Let me say this, my enthusiasm for some exhibits forced me to tour particular manufacturer's offerings more than once. Much love for the Audi R8 convertible and the whole wing dedicated to Porsche. The Panamera is big. Big and Tall. Like a plus man's shop with all the clothing and accessories that one could muster. There is an elegance to this heft, however. Maybe it was the color. Maybe it was the vibe (no not the Pontiac Vibe). Or maybe it was the fact that I just wanted to love the car. Well, it is a Porsche after all. Sat in the front, sat the back, had a photo taken. I was impressed, probably more so by the fact that a child's car seat fits squarely in the back without crushing any limbs (yours or a child's). And yes, an adult fits back there, too.

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For the birds courtesy of Ford!