Jeepspeed Cherokees On The Move
In the second race of its inaugural racing season, JeepSpeed Cherokees took to the California desert last June to complete three 62-mile loops of the MDR Kartek 400. With double the entries of the first race, the JeepSpeed Cherokees battled it out through the tough yet fast racecourse with Billy Bunch and co-driver John Kearney, grabbing First Place in their 2000 XJ five-speed. The win positions them in Third Place for the series.
The JeepSpeed Racing Series is limited to 2WD or 4WD '84-'01 Jeep Cherokees in primarily stock form. Though fiberglass hoods and fenders are permitted, the vehicles must retain the other steel body components in addition to the original interior and window glass. Any factory Cherokee engine and transmission combo may be used, as well as any factory differential, though carriers must remain open. Suspension is limited to any aftermarket kit available to accommodate a maximum tire size of 33 inches.
Placing Second for the second time this season, Barrie Thompson and Steve Tomason are sitting First in the overall standings, with Ryan Wallace of Rubicon Express in Second. Both are in the running to grab a portion of the $6,000 in contingency money posted by American Racing Wheels. The JeepSpeed Series is currently slated to compete in three races this year, with the final race of the season being the Primm 400 in Las Vegas on September 13-16. For more information about the JeepSpeed Racing Series, contact JeepSpeed at (714) 538-7434 or visit the Web site at www.jeepspeed.com.
Suvs Suck Gas
Some congressional representatives want to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for SUVs. The current standards, set during the 1975 Arab oil embargo, require passenger cars to get 27.5 mpg and light trucks and SUVs to get 20.7 mpg. David Nemtzow, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, stated that by requiring SUVs to meet the same 27.5-mpg standard set for passenger cars, consumers could save $27 billion in fuel costs and reduce U.S. oil demand by 1 million barrels a day. The U.S. currently uses about 20 million barrels each day. Much of the argument stems from the fact that in 1975 most light trucks were used by farmers and businesses and were outnumbered by passenger cars on the road. Today, however, SUVs, pickups, and minivans total half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. A member of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers stated that raising the fuel standard would require smaller vehicles that weigh less and as a result would not be as safe in accidents. Though a report issued by the Union of Consumers Scientists stated that it is possible to develop cars capable of 40 miles per gallon by 2012 and 55 mpg by 2020 with no decrease in safety or performance.
Dana Spins Liberty's Wheels
Continuing more than 60 years of support of Jeep vehicles, the Dana Corporation will supply rear main driveshafts and independent front and beam-style rear axles for DaimlerChrysler Corporation's '02 Jeep Liberty SUV. The driveshafts, which feature a combination of Spicer components, will be assembled at the Spicer Driveshaft Group's Toledo Regional Driveshaft Center for delivery to DC's new Toledo North Assembly Plant. The Spicer independent front and beam rear axle assemblies offer a plethora of enhancements, including an all-aluminum carrier and tube for improved fuel efficiency, a larger pinion stem and bearings for enhanced NVH characteristics, and net-formed differential gears for increased strength and durability. Dana will supply a portion of the rear axles with the remainder being manufactured by DaimlerChrysler. Additionally, Dana will supply a series of engine and fluid systems products for the Liberty, including coupled hose products, side curtain airbag tubes, cooling products, piston rings, bearings, and cylinder head gasket covers.
The Dana Corporation also recently introduced Dual Advantage, an industry-first, dual-disconnect system designed to uncouple both front axleshafts of a 4WD vehicle while in two-wheel drive. The system is capable of reducing drag by allowing the differential gears in the front axle to remain stationary when the axle is disconnected and lessens the potential in some applications for NVH issues.
More GPS Industry Bad News
Cobra Says "Never Mind" to Lowrance - Magellan GPS Is SoldIn our July '01 issue, we reported that Cobra Electronics (the CB folks) was buying Lowrance. Well, the deal has gone the way of the Magellan purchase of Lowrance. After many delays and a price reduction, Cobra announced that they were bowing out of the deal. It appears Cobra could not obtain its required financing for the deal, given poor sales results at Lowrance.
This month, we report that struggling Orbital Sciences Corporation has sold its GPS operations to Thales Group of France. Sold are OSC's Magellan commercial and recreational GPS product lines, the high-precision Ashtech unit, and Magellan's 50 percent interest in NavSol. This unit, a partnership with Hertz, supplies Magellan Nav 750 units in Hertz rental cars. 4 Wheel Drive and Sport Utility's last sweepstakes rig sported a Nav 750.
Thales Group is a huge enterprise with 2000 revenues of 1.6 billion Euros (if Euros can be considered real money). Magellan will be folded into Thales (pronounced Tal-ess) Navigation, a unit of Thales Information and Technology Services. Until now, Thales has not had retail product business. It is unclear what sort of effort may be put into the support of Magellan's marine and recreational product line - a line that has suffered from lack of innovation in the last few years.
This announcement furthers the position of the 800-pound gorilla in the recreational GPS market, Garmin. Garmin is the leader in the lower-end aviation GPS market, as well as in the middle and lower end of the marine GPS markets. This allows Garmin to offer derivative recreational GPS units at little additional research and development expense. For example, watch for Garmin offering a street-and-trail navigator using WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System). Garmin recently announced its 76 series of console and handheld marine GPS receivers. Want to bet there's an auto/recreation unit on the way?
Brewing from its strong-selling X5 sport utility, BMW has a smaller X3 vehicle on the drawing board, slated for a 2004 launch. The X3 will be marketed as an off-road leisure car, expected to spend more time driven on the road than off. Based on the BMW 330iX, the X3 will feature a 231 hp, 24-valve, 3.0L engine and an all-wheel-drive system adapted from the X5.
Honda's longtime Isuzu-designed, U.S.-built Passport will most likely reach its production end by 2003 in favor of a less expensive Honda version of the Acura MDX sport utility, which offers a more car-like ride and handling.More from Beemer-ville: BMW plans to recall 22,345 new sedans, sport utes, and high-end sports cars to replace a faulty radiator cooling switch that has resulted in at least four vehicle fires.
Ford cut vehicle production to 930,000 units during its third-quarter production run due to the costly effects of the Firestone tire recall on its Explorer sport utility vehicles. The number ranks 10 percent below levels in the same quarter of last year.
Truckin' Nationals To Rock Firebird Raceway
Attracting more than 23,000 spectators and participants to last year's event, the 2001 Truckin' Nationals promises to be an even larger spectacle, offering a manufacturers' midway, monster truck rides and competition, a rock garden, and the toughest 4x4 competition ever. The event will be held October 13-14, 2001 at the Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix. New to this year's event is the co-sponsorship of yours truly, McMullen Argus Publishing, home to such great magazine titles as 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility and OFF-ROAD. This year's Truckin' Nationals will offer the coolest, fastest, and toughest trucks and 4x4s, as well as bitchin' Harleys, and bikini-clad beauties in the crowning of the Miss Truckin' Nationals.
In addition to everything truck related, the Truckin' Nationals will feature the likes of off-road racing legend Ivan Stewart, who will be on hand to hobnob with his fans and sign autographs. Enthusiasts will also have the opportunity to testdrive Toyota trucks, drive go-carts, and witness the first-ever triathalon of truck racing, featuring drag racing, road course racing, and a combination on- and off-road race. Big Foot, Snakebite, and Bounty Hunter monster trucks are booked for the monster truck competition and the Off-Road Ride and Drive will allow participants to testdrive their favorite make and model of vehicle back to back. For more information, call Firebird Raceway at (602) 268-0200 or check out the Web site at www.truckinationals.com; and www.Gr8Ride.com, the title sponsor of the event.