Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Howmet TX

Since I was talking about it in my Daytona 24 Hours post, I figured a car as cool as the Howmet TX really deserves more then just one line in a blog post. I am after all a nerdy engineering student and this is what engineers would refer to as a "technical wet dream"


What the 24 Hours of Daytona is now, and what it means for American road racing

As I am sure you all know, today will be the start of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. 

Since 1962, the 24 Hours of Daytona has been arguably one of the greatest American road races and one of the greatest on the planet as well. If you have the ability, go into your living room and flip on the TV and catch some of this glory, if you don't then you are like me and your life currently sucks.

All that is beside the point though, as my title suggests, I'm going to talk about what road racing is and what the Daytona 24 Hour means to endurance racing.

In its past, the Daytona 24 used to spawn some amazing racing and even more spectacular cars. Cars like the ingenious Howmet TX turbine powered racer, Porsche 917's, 962's, Ford GT40's and Jaguar XJ9's. Today it's all spec cars like Daytona Prototypes, GT car's which aren't even real cars. There was once a time when real sports car's, such as the Ferrari Daytona (good name, I know) and Corvette driven by Dale Earnhardt rubbed paint for 24 hours. And yes, Corvette won in 2001, OVERALL

Nowadays though, Grand-Am has taken over Daytona. Grand-Am is closely tied to NASCAR and that should really explain it all. What that has done is taken it's responsibility to cut costs and control competition (sound familiar FIA?). What that gives us it cheapo Daytona Prototypes, and tube-framed GT cars. They've lit the track, destroying the purpose of night-racing.

Also with the coming of Grand-Am marked the end of IMSA and prior to that, World Sports car Championships, this cleared all interests from the international crowd and consequently, international drivers.

In it's effort to cut cost's, Grand-AM also allowed for car's to be built out tent-poles. Car's like the Turner BMW M6 and the Mazda RX8's are spaceframe chassis with carbon-fiber body panels bolted on. In fact, the M6 is actually a Pontiac GTO. Now which would you rather watch, the great Sports cars of the past or go-karts with body panels on them?

Don't get me wrong though, you should still watch the Daytona 24 Hour's. Sure it's not what it used to be, but it's a hell of a lot better then NASCAR and its still real road racing. It's still a 24 hour race and everyone knows, there isn't anything much better then a 24 hour race.