Monday, April 30, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The alternative is to drive quite cautiously, much to the irritation of impatient drivers like myself, who chaff when getting behind a little old man or woman whose head is submerged below the front seat headrest. Or you find the Mr. or Ms. Magoo who leaves a trail of accidents behind him or her as she perilously negotiates the street (Perish the thought of going on the Interstate!).
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Subject: Dallas uninsured cars Uninsured Cars Off The Road
Recently, the City of Dallas , Texas , passed an ordinance stating that if
a driver is pulled over by law enforcement and is not able to provide
proof of insurance, the car is towed.
To retrieve the car after being impounded, they must show proof of
insurance to have the car released. This has made it easy for the City of
Dallas to remove uninsured cars.
Shortly after the "No Insurance" ordinance was passed, the Dallas impound
lots began to fill up and were full after only nine days. 80 + % of the
impounded cars were driven by illegals.
Not only must they provide proof of insurance to have their car released,
they have to pay for the cost of the tow, a $350 fine, and $20 for every
day their car is kept in the lot.
Accident rates have gone down 47% and... Dallas ' solution gets uninsured
drivers off the road WITHOUT making them show proof of nationality.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Report from the Society of Automotive Historians 9th Biennial Automobile History Conference, held in Philadelphia April 13-14, 2012.
Hi folks -- I just returned from the SAH History Conference and wanted to write down a few impressions. First, I must congratulate organizer Arthur Jones for putting together a first- rate program that featured speakers from Spain, Germany, South Africa, Britain, and of course the U.S. The quality of the papers was extremely high, ending with the invited presentation by Professor Mira Wilkins, author with Frank Hill of the the well-known monograph "Ford on Six Continents." I had a number of paper favorites, but one that sticks out was former GM designer Bill Porter's presentation on bio-morphism and contemporary automobile design. The idea that the newer edgy designs mimic fish, plants, and animals can be a departure for a very serious analysis, and Bill has suggested that avenue to further research.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Auto racing (1990s)
As a consequence of new sponsors, personalities, race tracks, and television exposure, automobile racing – and in particular NASCAR – reached unprecedented heights of popularity during the 1990s. Indeed, NASCAR, with its cafes and memorabilia, became a “way of life” for many Americans.
While automobile racing has its origins at the turn of the 20th century with the beginnings of the industry, at certain levels the sport was radically transformed during the 1990s. First, and particularly as a result of the spectacular success of NASCAR ( National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), automobile racing brought in enormous amounts of money. Secondly, it was no longer the automobile manufacturers that made the key decisions related to auto racing, but rather those controlling business aspects and the organization of the sport.
The influx of money was not true across the board, however. At the second level, beneath NASCAR and Formula 1 (primarily a European-based activity), stood races organized by CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) and the IRL (Indy Racing League). Conflict between these two organizations diluted fan interest and profits.
At a third level were those engaged in sports car road racing, governed by the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) and IMSA (International Motor Sports Association). Finally, grass-roots level racing, either at the club level, or at oval dirt and asphalt tracks located in rural
During the 1990s, NASCAR exploded on the American scene. Once confined to the
For example, during the decade of the 1990s, sponsorship contributions rose seven percent annually. By 1998 more than fifty companies invested more than $10 million each year. Top sponsors included Phillip Morris, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, General Motors, PepsiCo, AT&T, RJR Nabisco, and McDonalds. New sponsors in sectors with little direct connection to the automobile business – fast food, home supplies, detergents -- became commonplace.
Consequently top drivers like Dale Earnhart and Jeff Gordon earned more than $10 million a year, and successful crew chiefs $300,000 to $500,000. Ultimately the money was due to the fact that NASCAR was highly adaptable to TV, and thus it was media executives rather than the auto industry that was now calling the shots in this business.
The 1990s also witnessed the rise of a new generation of NASCAR drivers. Heroes from the 1960s and 1970s, including Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, and Buddy Baker gave way to Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Ernie Ervin, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte, and Jeff and Ward Burton, Ricky Craven, Johnny Benson, and Jeremy Mayfield. Symbolically, Richard Petty’s 1992 “Fan Appreciation Tour” ended winless. Petty’s last race in
New owners were also a part of the NASCAR scene during the 1990s. Included were stars from other sports, including NFL coach Joe Gibbs, and the NBA’s Julius Erving and Brad Daugherty. With new tracks located near
Perhaps the most dramatic event of the 1990s was NASCAR’s coming to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1995. With NASCAR founder Bill France and longtime Indy track owner Tony Hulman now dead, their successors could bury long-term differences and realize the potential of such an event in terms of media coverage and fan enthusiasm. Thus, on August 6, 1995 Jeff Gordon won the inaugural 160 lap event in front of 300,000 fans.
Despite the great success of the Brickyard 400, during the 1990s controversy swirled around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its owner, Tony George. During the 1980s CART and USAC had been the two sanctioning bodies that governed racing at
The end of tobacco company sponsorship of racing
Since the early 1970s, tobacco companies had played a critical role in automobile racing through its sponsorship of teams and events. No longer able to advertise in print or on television, it could advertise on the side of cars, however, and it did so freely. This investment came to an end in 1998, however, when after litigation involving the companies and the states’ attorney generals an agreement was reached that eliminated cigarette companies from automobile racing. After 28 years the NASCAR’s Winston Cup ended, but racing continued, now known as the NEXTEL series.
Assael, Shaun. Wide Open: Days and Nights on the NASCAR Tour.
Fleischman, Bill and Al Pearce. Inside Sports NASCAR Racing.
Hagstrom, Robert G. The
Levine, Leo. “The Business of Racing.” Road & Track 51, no.4 (April, 1999):146-149. A very perceptive analysis of automobile racing as a business. Sponsors, advertising, and the role of the media, especially TV, are discussed.
Monday, April 9, 2012
For the past century, specifically during agricultural surpluses and/or fuel shortages, the
The potential for ethanol as a fuel source first arose during World War I, as incredible fuel shortages ensued; it was at this time that Henry Ford began researching the production of alcohol from grain; this was part of Ford’s lifelong interest to join agriculture to industry. However, no official testing was able to be conducted until the post-war era brought a concern that worldwide petroleum supplies would soon be depleted. The post-war era also brought about the end of the Progressive reform and Prohibition. Due to ethanol’s use in beverage alcohol, alcohol distillers during Prohibition latched on to it as an alternative fuel in attempt to save their dying businesses. They would provide a number of arguments to promote their product’s use as a straight fuel or blended with traditional gasoline to create gasohol (a mixture of conventional gasoline with any type of alcohol, generally portioned at 10-25% alcohol). The most important of these advantages involved countering the growing problem of engine knock, increased power, and very similar fuel mileage data to that of conventional gasoline.
The first major attempt to market gasohol occurred in 1922 when the Standard Oil Company tested a 25% blend in the
The potential for alcohol based fuel sources arose again during the early 1930s, as agriculture took an intense dive, bringing corn prices down to ten cents per bushel. Grasping for any hope of saving their farms, agricultural leaders threw incredible amounts of support at promoting and advancing technology in ethanol fuel. This actually led to the creation of the “Motor Fuel Alcohol Committee,” which consisted of a number of Midwestern alcohol supporters. This committee would investigate the potential for nationwide use of corn to produce ethanol, and would ultimately conclude that if the
Agriculture’s use in industry would seemingly die until 1935 when the ever persistent Henry Ford, in unison with Dr. William J Hale, Mr. Francis Patrick Garvan, and Dr. Charles Holmes Herty, brought industrial and agricultural leaders together to promote the potential of combining science, industry and agriculture. The First Dearborn Conference, May 7-8 1935, attempted “to offer an alternative to the domestic-allotment, acreage restriction agriculture programs of the New Deal and Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace” (Giebelhaus 179). This conference brought members to Henry Ford’s replica of Independence Hall in
This led to the construction of the first major ethanol refinery in
The late 1930s allowed supporters the opportunity to reflect on their experiments and test markets of the previous years. They, along with such organizations as the Farm Chemurgic Council and the USDA, concluded that alcohol would never reach a cost low enough to prove any benefit as even a five or ten percent blend in straight gasoline. While the agricultural industry was seeing a great amount of benefit from these programs, without tax incentives, they simply wouldn’t be able to supply ethanol at an affordable cost. However, the one major positive pulled from the 1920s and 30s showed the United States that as a long-term alternative fuel source, that ethanol could potentially support the nation’s need for motor fuel. Ultimately, the