Pro 4 off-road downhill slalom truck race on snow back at Sunday River in 2015

Bryce Menzies in action during the finals at Red Bull Frozen Rush at Sunday River in Newry, Maine, USA on 10 January, 2014.

Bryce Menzies in action during the finals at Red Bull Frozen Rush at Sunday River in Newry, Maine, USA on 10 January, 2014.

BY GERRY MILES

It’s the four letter word you either hate or love: Snow.

Living in New England, we all know what a struggle it can be to drive in it, manage a straight path on the roadways and arrive safely over the river and through the woods at grandmother’s house.

The Red Bull “frozen rush” takes winter driving to an extreme extreme. These drivers race their fired up pickup trucks DOWN HILL. On snow. On purpose. For show. And, of course, some pay dough.

The folks at Sunday River in Maine will again host 900-horsepower off-road Pro 4 trucks for the second year in a row on January 8-9, 2015.

It’s hard to imagine slalom racing in pickup trucks down a mountain, over jumps, gates and slopes like the folks on TV on skis. It boggles the mind but the picture at the top of this post shows what they can do. To see what it looks like, click on the video link here.

In 2014, Sunday River Ski Resort, just a few short hours north of Boston, played host to eight of the country’s best professional off-road truck racers, who ventured far from their usual dirt, sand and gravel tracks to tackle unprecedented terrain, including icy berms, snow-covered jumps and steep slopes.  In the end it was motorsports legend Ricky Johnson who was crowned champion in the first ever off-road truck race on snow.  He now looks to defend his title against this year’s stacked roster of industry greats and hungry newcomers.

“Winning the title last year was amazing, especially after going head to head with the best in the business.  It could have been anyone’s day, but I’m glad it was mine,” said the recent Motorsports Hall of Famer. “This year won’t be any easier.  Everyone wants that title now and like I said to Johnny (Greaves) last year… My a** is here, come kick it.”

Returning to compete this year alongside Johnson is Bryce Menzies, Todd LeDuc, Johnny Greaves, Scott Douglas, Rob MacCachren and Carl Renezeder. New to the wearies of winter weather racing will be decorated freestyle motocross rider turned off-road champion, Brian Deegan and young up-and-comer RJ Anderson.  Both are standout warriors in the 2-wheel drive off-road class and are stepping up to Pro 4 truck for a shot at the Red Bull Frozen Rush title.

The competition airs on NBC as part of the year-long Red Bull Signature Series, the most progressive action sports event property in the world.

Red Bull Frozen Rush created a new chapter in the history book of off-road racing in 2014, and this winter, it will return to push the progression of the sport even further. For more information, including the schedule for an additional Fan Day on-site, please visit www.redbull.com/frozenrush.

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Top stolen cars in America

BY GERRY MILES

Did you know that cars are stolen every 44 seconds in the U.S. of A?

Consider yourself forewarned if you drive a Honda Accord, Honda Civic, full-sized Chevy or Ford pickup, Toyota Camry or Dodge Caravan, according to CoverHound Insurance.

Their great graphic follows and shows what is taken and provides theft-prevention steps as well. Stay safe.

CoverHound-Stolen-Cars-72

 

 

Honda’s crash sim software is a hit

Previous version simulation.

Previous version simulation.

In its constant pursuit of designing and building safer vehicles for all road users, Honda is pioneering the use of a groundbreaking new three-dimensional, crash-simulation visualization technology based on DELTAGEN, the leading high-end 3D visualization software by 3DXCITE (formerly known as RTT).

Previous version simulation.

Previous version simulation.

The technology takes the output from a commonly-used advanced simulation software package, known as LS DYNA CAE, and renders the event in a three-dimensional presentation. The visualization technology, which was first designed for use in the animation and film industry, enables Honda engineers to more easily study the results of a crash simulation, test different design approaches and implement design changes with greater speed and efficiency.

Honda engineers are able to manipulate the rendering, rotate the view in any direction and strip away parts of the vehicle to isolate a section or component for more thorough analysis. The crash barrier can also be rendered transparent in the virtual environment so the immediate effects of a crash can be viewed from multiple points of view, including the driver’s seat.

The visualization software was co-developed by Honda R&D Americas, Inc., the North American research and development arm of Honda, and 3DXCITE.

“With this technology, we have gained the potential to improve the quality of decision making and reduce the time required for finalizing a vehicle design by greatly increasing the ease of communicating and understanding the results of a crash test simulation,” said Eric DeHoff, Technical Leader for CAE in the Crash Safety Group of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. “This tool will promote a more complete understanding of vehicle safety design amongst all engineers involved in our vehicle development process.”

Honda engineers challenged developers at 3DXCITE to integrate the DELTAGEN software with Honda’s existing LS-DYNA CAE crash simulation data to deliver a detailed 3D rendering of the simulation. Honda engineers provided detailed parameters of the tool and oversaw its development.

“This technology would not have become a reality without the vision and leadership of Honda engineers,” said Tom Celusnak, Solutions Architect for 3DXCITE.

“Past efforts at creating this kind of highly realistic rendering involved weeks of concentrated effort by engineers and rendering specialists and would result a single simulation with fixed viewing parameters,” added DeHoff.  “With this new technology we can create and manipulate the simulation at the push of a button, and we can do it in hours instead of weeks.”

Honda R&D has been utilizing LS-DYNA non-linear crash simulation technology since 1998 as part of its new-model development process and has used the technology to help develop new safety designs, including its next-generation Advance Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, now being applied to every new Honda and Acura vehicle, and the innovative one-piece hot-stamped door stiffener ring first applied to the HRA-developed 2014 Acura MDX.  Today, as a result, Honda has more vehicles achieving an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating than any other automaker, including the Honda Accord sedan and coupe, the Civic sedan, Odyssey minivan, Acura RLX sedan and Acura MDX sport-utility vehicle.

Toyota donates 34 trucks to San Diego Lifeguards – no Baywatch babes are included

2014_Toyota_CSD_LG_002

BY GERRY MILES

It’s hard to mention the words lifeguard and California in a sentence without mentioning the old TV show “Baywatch” with its buxom bevy of beauties running in super slow-motion down the beach en route to a rescue.

In the real world, Toyota formed a new alliance with the lifeguards in San Diego and their Water Safety Days program, donating 34 brand-new Toyota trucks and SUVs to the city for lifeguard rescue and operations.

 Toyota began its partnership with the City of San Diego’s lifeguards in 2011, including the donation of Toyota vehicles for the lifeguards’ use, supporting the city’s ability to serve and protect area beachgoers.  For instance, last year San Diego lifeguard Sgt. Eric Care and his team used their Toyota Tundra CrewMax 4×4 to quickly power through a pile of large loose rocks to rescue a heart attack victim.

2014_Toyota_CSD_LG_001The new vehicles include 15 Tacomas, 12 Tundras, three 4Runners, three Sequoias and a RAV4.  The Tacoma and 4Runner will help lifeguards with soft sand and rocky beach terrains, while the Tundra and Sequoia also add heavy-duty water craft towing capability.

“San Diego is one of the country’s most popular beach destinations, and Toyota recognizes the critical role the city’s lifeguards play in keeping our beaches safe,” said Doug Eroh, Toyota Motor Sales Los Angeles Region general manager.  “We are committed to ensuring San Diego has the best available resources to do that, along with educating this great community and its visitors on water safety.”

For more information on Toyota’s sponsorship and the City of San Diego’s Water Safety Days, please visit: San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Lifeguard Services.

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B.B. King stars in Toyota Camry launch spots

BB Kings aka Blues Boy King, stars in the new Toyota Camry commercials.

BB Kings aka Blues Boy King, stars in the new Toyota Camry commercials.

BY GERRY MILES

Although it talks about bold choices leading to another, it’s hard to think of the Toyota Camry as bold in any way.

Toyota went to great pains during the warmer months to show off its 260+HP Camry as a race car ready ride and how it can handle. Does anyone seriously need a 260 horse Camry? Maybe not and to break the belief(s) that it’s a highly-purchased utilitarian vanilla motoring appliance it needed to do so. Nissan staged a similar commercial with one of its cars, decked out in faux race-car cladding. Anyone doubt that racing and winning on Sunday doesn’t sell on Monday? If so, go to the back of the line, please.

While he’s one of the most recognized artists around, BB King and his famed guitar Lucille, hope to tickle the heart strings of buyers and cement Camry as America’s best-selling car. Heck, I’ve even seen some recently used as a manner of livery. Who knew?

Ultimately, Toyota’s ad speak wants its new ad campaign to live inspired lives while going where they’ve never gone before. (Isn’t that the start of a space movie? I’m not sure but it sounds like the undercurrent of so many products these days, who can tell?)

The campaign—‘One Bold Choice Leads to Another’—is the first launch initiative under Total Toyota (T2), a total market model that creates a more cohesive marketing approach to Toyota’s paid, earned and owned media by unifying the efforts of previously separate agencies.

“The 2015 Camry launch campaign captures what the new Toyota brand is all about,” said Jack Hollis, Vice President, Marketing, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “When we created our new marketing model less than a year ago, our quest was to connect with guests in more exciting and relevant ways. This campaign is just the beginning, and we think our drivers will be able to feel the new energy we’re bringing to the brand.”

All of the T2 agencies (Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Burrell Communications, Conill, InterTrend Communications and Zenith) came together under Saatchi LA’s leadership to arrive at a core idea for the campaign. Once established, the core idea served as the guide for all of the creative work, which targets the total market, including highly-targeted efforts in diversity segments.

The campaign reflects the increasingly diverse American landscape. Consumer research for this campaign uncovered insights that united the Generation X target across multiple ethnic markets. The result was an inspiring connection between a vehicle that’s doing something unexpected with its bold new styling and a generation that likes to stand out as individuals. The respective media and creative departments within the T2 model also worked together to ensure that interesting content is delivered to consumers when and where it’s relevant for their lifestyles.

“The campaign centers on a pivotal message: One bold choice leads to another,” said Jason Schragger, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi LA, who is leading the T2 creative process. “Through our research, we know buying a car today means buying the label that goes along with it. The boldness of the Camry’s new redesign communicates an unexpected, emotional thrill, and we wanted to capture that spirit of imagination and zest for life while connecting with consumers in meaningful and relevant ways.”

Elements of the campaign include mass reach media, custom programs that speak to guests’ passions with a bold twist, and collaborations with Toyota media partners.

Broadcast
A total of six broadcast spots were developed using multi-cultural insights aimed at a transcultural audience. The commercials share stories of drivers who make a series of bold life choices, each one ending with a touching human moment that aligns with Toyota’s Let’s Go Places tagline.

The :30 debut spot called “Guitar” shows a woman who goes to a storage auction and hits the jackpot (spoiler alert: “Guitar” stars blues legend B.B. King). Another :30 spot, named “Breakout,” features a young man who makes a daring decision at a wedding. A third :30 spot, “Bucket List,” tells the story of a man who takes the trip of a lifetime with someone he hasn’t seen in far too long.

Additionally, “Fix” features a husband’s bold driving skills while chasing a frozen yogurt truck in his new Camry to deliver a tasty treat to his very happy, pregnant wife. “Movie Premiere” follows a dapper man to a movie premiere. As he leaves in his Camry, the lead actress escapes the ensuing paparazzi, hops into the vehicle’s passenger side, and they drive off together. In “Park,” a husband and wife “sneak” into an amusement park after hours in their Camry for a surprise, romantic dinner to celebrate a special occasion.

Camry as a bold car choice? I’ve never thought of it before.

But I’ve never thought Caddy would use Led Zepplin sound in commercials as they moved away from selling Leviathans to the wheelchair set and those with walkers and tennis balls on the backside either.

Never say never.

Still note sure how BB King fits into it, other than they got me to write about it.

2015 Honda HR-V is the next big small thing

Honda HR-V Compact SUV t

Honda HR-V Compact SUV 

BY GERRY MILES

The next small big thing is here for Honda.

The HR-V battles with the Honda Fit and downstream from the Honda CR-V cute/ute crossover in the conquest for more buyers and strong competition. Honda said it will launch this winter, following the roll out for the 2015 Fit and the recent release of the major/minor makeover of the popular CR-V.

Together the Fit and HR-V will represent a significant growth opportunity for Honda in the U.S., with both models produced at the automaker’s newest North American manufacturing facility located in Celaya, Mexico, which allows for production flexibility to meet market demand.

“Both Fit and HR-V demonstrate how great things can come in small packages, and no one does this better than Honda,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda automobile division for American Honda. “Together these models also represent Honda’s step-by-step expansion of our production in the region, which has been key to our success in America for more than 30 years.”

Honda HR-V Compact SUV.

Honda HR-V Compact SUV.

All-New HR-V Compact SUV

Honda released the first official photos of the U.S.-bound HR-V at the New York International Auto Show. With sleek styling and expressive character lines, the HR-V is anticipated to launch this winter. Built on the same global compact platform that underpins the Fit, the HR-V will feature a versatile and spacious interior thanks to a unique center tank layout.

The HR-V will be equipped with the Honda Fit’s Magic Seat®, which allows for multiple seating configurations and the ability to fold the second row seat completely flat for added cargo space. The HR-V will serve as the entry point to the Honda light truck lineup, positioned below the CR-V in both price and size.

Honda has also released a tear silhouette Ridgeline photo but assured at a recent presser that it is coming back and not going away.

Audi Q3 goes on sale for $32,500

2015 Audi Q3

2015 Audi Q3

– The agile Audi Q3 compact premium crossover combines coupe-like design with the utility of an SUV
– High level of standard equipment including heated, 12-way power front leather surface seats, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and Audi advanced key

HERNDON, Va. – The Audi Q3 combines coupe-like design with the utility of an SUV, offering an excellent balance of agility and functionality. It features a standard 200 horsepower 2.0 liter TFSI® engine with a six-speed Tiptronic® transmission. The Q3 joins the highly successful Q5 and Q7 Audi SUV line-up and will go on sale this fall.The sporty character of the Q3 is defined by its low roof line and wraparound tailgate, along with distinctive exterior lighting including Audi xenon plus and LED daytime running headlamps as well as LED taillights standard. The optional Sport package which includes sport seats, shift paddles and Audi drive select adds to the dynamic character of the Q3. The Audi drive select system allows drivers to adjust the shift points and throttle mapping of the Q3 at the touch of a button. The available legendary quattro® all-wheel drive system helps provide additional grip for those seeking a winding road or additional traction in wet and snowy conditions.

Inside, the Audi Q3 seats five passengers, has 60/40 split folding rear seats that make 48.2 cu-ft of cargo volume when folded down. Standard dual-zone automatic climate control, available power tailgate and interior LED lighting round out the interior. The Audi advanced key provides keyless access as well as keyless start/stop functionality.

The available MMI® Navigation plus with voice control utilizes a 7.0 inch display and adds a color display to the driver information system located in the instrument cluster. The MMI Navigation Plus features the award-winning Audi connect® infotainment system (included in Prestige model), which includes in-vehicle Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight wireless devices for passengers. Audi connect also provides Google Earth™ maps for a true aerial view of roads and the surrounding area. A 14-speaker, 465 watt Bose Surround Sound System is also part of the Prestige model offering to satisfy audiophile needs.

The Audi Q3 offers an excellent balance of performance and functionality for the urban outdoors.

Audi Q3 MSRP* excluding transportation, taxes, title:
Audi Q3 Premium Plus, FWD: $32,500
Audi Q3 Premium Plus, quattro: $34,600
Audi Q3 Prestige, FWD: $36,400
Audi Q3 Prestige, quattro $38,500

* Transportation charge is $925.00