Mazda: All Racing News Is Local

Word went out in late December that Dean Case of Mazda Motorsports would be hosting a Media Lunch at the Silicon Valley Auto Show in San Jose on Thursday January 5th to present the idea that there is a “local story” everywhere Mazda owners race their cars. The Auto Show features two Bay Area Mazda Racers that reinforce that premise. Mark Drennan, “the guy you don’t want to see in your rear view mirror” and Telo Stewart, Owner, World Speed Motorsports. The Sonoma-based World Speed team is known for putting Mazda drivetrains in just about anything and making them competitive.

As Barry Toepke, Maestro of the Monterey Reunion and Brad Littlefield new public relations Manager for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca were expected to be in attendance, there was a chance that we might learn the latest status in the ongoing challenge for the operation of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Dean Case, started the introductions by letting his audience of about two dozen journalists know that Mazda owners race their cars in 46 of the 50 states and, with his usual wry smile, that he was interested in seeing what could be done about the missing four. With a miniscule 2% market share on the road, 55% of ALL Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) entries are either Spec Mazda or Mazda-powered, with the Mazda Teen Challenge being one of the most fiercely competitive classes in racing. Dean admitted that Mazda sold millions in racing parts in 2016 and that Mazda had poured $1 million into payouts for club racing level prize money.

It was really interesting to learn that the engine in the World Speed Mazda Formula Cars were standard MZR production engines with zero internal changes. Only a changed ECU, exhaust and intake yield maximum performance with maximum longevity for a dependable 200 horsepower in the sealed engines assembled by famed builder Hasselgren Engineering of Berkeley. These engines typically go 3,000 miles compared to the significantly more costly Formula Atlantic engines that are anticipated to go 2,000 miles between rebuilds. One MRZ, Dean said, had still not been cracked open with 11,000 racing miles clocked on it.

Dean added a funny story about some consternation concerning a scion of the famed Brabham family being sent out in a car, winning eight races and a championship, only to be informed after the fact that he had been given a car with a used engine! Speaking of the Teen Mazda Challenge Dean stated: “We want the series that we support to be affordable. We encourage our drivers to put advertisements for non-profits on their cars.” He suggested Mazda racers race with passion and support their passions. Dean talked about Mazda support of the SPCA for Monterey County, Project Yellow Light, and mentioned that Mazda racer Sarah Montgomery was working with Lemons of Love.

We heard from Telo about Mazda-powered Formula Cars, the Mazda Challenge Race and the Mazda Road to Indy, setting up farm teams and several levels of competition to create a feeder series for American race car drivers who dream of Indy.

Barry Toepke introduced Brad Littlefield, the new PR Manager for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and spoke about the 60th Anniversary/Diamond Jubilee of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (which was opened in 1957). We also got to meet Mark Drennan a 50-year-old rookie who lead six races and won two in 2016. We also met Marissa Borjon, the new Mazda Western Regional PR person.

Dean kept us on schedule with a light-hearted touch and gave us a tour and walk-around of the Mazda booth and two race vehicles on display after the lunch. It was a great event, well-attended and what is probably the first of what might turn into a Mazda roadshow that will criss-cross the country shining a bright light on Mazda’s amazing footprint in the American racing scene.

2016 SVRtW

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How Technology is Transforming the Automobile; Including Autonomous Driving, Connectivity and Ownership.

WAJ joins forces with the Autotech Council for an event at the epicenter of innovation in Silicon Valley that will bring together thought leaders from the auto and tech worlds to examine not only the future of cars, but also how technology is transforming transportation. The event will feature engaging discussions on topics ranging from next-generation powertrains and fuels to 21st Century automotive retail, from cutting-edge in-dash connectivity to self-driving technology. Additionally, there will be advanced vehicle and product demonstrations from automakers, technology suppliers and visionaries from Silicon Valley.Display-&-Truck2w

Who: Western Automotive Journalists (WAJ) and The Autotech Council
When: Monday, October 10th, 2016, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Where: Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
Participants: 300+ influential attendees including OEMs, suppliers, developers, startups, investors, educators and recruiters.
Journalists: WAJ automotive journalists along with tech, lifestyle and local media.
Vehicle Demo: Vehicles displaying the latest current technology available.

Agenda
Technology Expo / Vehicle Display (all day)
Morning
9:00am Registration Open
10:00am – Welcome / Update- Charlie Vogelheim – Motor Trend Audio,  Brian Douglas – President Western Automotive Journalists
10:05am – Intelligent Mobility- Veerender Kaul – Frost & Sullivan
10:25am – Tech Utilization- Anton Wahlman, Moderator
Panelists:

  • Autonomous Stuff – Wolfgang Juchmann
  • atieva UV – Jared Strawderman
  • Motivo – Praveen Penmetetsa

10:55am – Autonomous Track Day-Joshua Schachter – Founder, Self Racing Cars
11:15am – 4 Technology Starups –Moderator: Liz Kerton Autotech Council

  • UICO – Ryan Humphreys
  • Peloton – Steve Boyd
  • Caruma Technologies – Chris Carson
  • Zentri – Sanjay Kalyansundaram

12:00pm -2:00pm Gourmet Lunch Trucks
•Technology Expo / Vehicle Display
•Autotech Council Science Fair 1:00~5:00

Afternoon
2:00pm – Cars, Robots, Creators – Paul Saffo – Chair, Future Studies, Singularity University
2:20pm – Audience Q&A
2:25pm – Disruptive Services – Brian Douglas, Moderator
Panelists:

  • Insurance CSAA – Stephen Brockman
  • Bauer Transportation – Martin Sances
  • Flywheel – Percy Rajani

2:55pm – Hosted Conversations Charlie Vogelheim
                  Education – San Jose State Prof. Fred Barez PhD
3:05pm – GEOHOT – Comma
3:25pm – Audience Q&A
3:30pm – 4:00pm Networking Break
4:00pm – Cybersecurity – Myles Kitchen – Visual Threat
4:20pm –Regulatory Challenges  Former CAL Air Resources Chair  – Dr. Robert Sawyer
4:40pm – A.I. Cars – Danny Shapiro, Sr. Dir Automotive – NVIDIA
5:00pm – Car Company Innovations

  • Ford Reaserch and Inovation Center Palo Alto – Dragos Maciuca
  • Nissan Research Center Silicon Valley – Melissa Cefkin

5:30pm – 7:00pm Velodyne LiDAR & GENTRY Magazine Reception and Networking

Full-Room-w

 

 

 

 

autotechsciencefailrAutotech Council Science Fair: 30 Science Fair type projects and hands-on technology displays from companies pushing the cutting edge of automotive innovation. Demos and companies the 2016 Autotech Council Science Fair are listed on the Autotech Council website.

Purchase your Tickets HERE

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paypal-Creditcard-paymentIf you wish to pay with PayPal, simply log into your PayPal account in the top screen.  If you wish to pay by debit or credit card, (WAJ accepts, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and Bank Debit cards), click on the “Pay with a debit or credit card, or PayPal credit.”  It’s that simple, safe and secure.

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Dept. of Interior Bonneville Salt Flats Fairy Tale

245fffdb-b31c-45f5-9b3a-720d5cd056adFOR RELEASE May 10, 2016
Contact: Louise Ann Noeth | 805.312.0893 – C.S.T. | lsl458mph@att.net

Americans were treated to a “fairy tale” May 4th when the Department of the Interior staff posted this link that features a captioned photo more appropriate for the Brothers Grimm than the stewards of the nations public lands.

Joseph Gruber’s photo depicts the Bonneville Salt Flats at twilight with a magnificent sky of star trails, but the surface is not the glistening white salt playa that has captivated the eye for more than 10,000 years. Instead, anemic muddy beige gypsum greets the eye. However, it is the caption that makes recreational users shake their head in disbelief:
Star trails above the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah almost look like a tunnel into hyperspace. These salt flats are made of approximately 90 percent common table salt, weighing millions of tons. The crust is up to 5 feet thick near the center of this unbelievable landscape that stretches over 46 square miles – just slightly smaller than the size of San Francisco. It’s the perfect way to celebrate #MayThe4thBeWithYou!

Fairy Tale #1: Constant, uninterrupted potash mining of the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) robbed the natural wonder of its thickness decades ago. There has not been five (5) INCHES, let alone five FEET of salt crust, since 1988 when a US Geological Survey made measurements of the shifting salt surface.

Fairy Tale #2: Depending on which assay results one prefers, the chemical make-up of the salt is NOT 90% NaCl (salt) but has ALWAYS been 98-99% salt.

Fairy Tale #3: It has been DECADES since recreational users have seen 46 square miles of salt. The actual usable surface is less than 20 square miles.

This, despite the BLM designating the International Speedway an “Areas of Critical Environmental Concern” many years ago which has brought little relief to the withering salt crust playa while providing a steady stream of revenue to Kaiser Chemical followed by Reilly industries and now Intrepid Potash, Inc.

In 1997, a voluntary salt lay-down project was begun to return salt brine to the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway located North of Interstate 80 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places – waste product from the potash mining that has collected HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of tons on the South side of the highway.

Once a promising source of ecological remediation, the current mining company, Intrepid Potash, has never equaled the test program restorative levels witnessed in 2001 when Don Vesco set the current World Land Speed Record of 458MPH driving on an 11-mile race course – the last time such length was observed.

Why must it be such a quixotic quest to get attention of our national leadership for corrective action? Digging into how this happened, we found that the DOI staffer lifted copy off the BLM website.

157239a1-05bb-4219-8a22-5124a26d548eThe racing community is working closely with the BLM to pursue a comprehensive restoration program. Part of that effort will require the BLM to update information shared with the public to reflect the current conditions of the BSF. We look forward to having five feet of salt crust so that this is no longer a fairy tale but once again a fabulous raceway.

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The WAJ Living Legends Series – Doreen Green

LeMans 1959

The year 2013 is the centennial for Aston Martin, one of the greatest marques in the history of the automobile. To help celebrate this occasion, WAJ was honored to have Doreen Green available to speak to us on Saturday, February 16, 2013 during lunch at YiPing Restaurant, 2416 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, CA.

[Aston Martin memories by Michael Green]

Doreen Green, then Doreen Sherwood, joined David Brown-Aston Martin in 1949 as a secretary. She would work for the drawing office crew, Professor Eberan von Eberhorst (of Auto-Union fame) who was to design the DB3, and racing team manager John Wyer when he joined Aston a short time later.

Aston Martin Le Mans 1959

Aston Martin wins LeMans 1959

Aston was a family affair, as Doreen’s two brother’s also worked at Aston Martin; Roger in the drawing office – whose claim to fame at the time was inserting “David Brown” onto the Aston Martin badge; and Brian, who started out in the sheet metal shop and became a panel beater.

 

At one point she had her own office, which was a big deal as the other girls didn’t. Over her seven-plus years there she became friends with many now famous people; her favorite being Peter Collins.

In the spring of ’54 a tall, lanky young man walked into her office wanting to see JW. He said he was here from America, and “I want to go racing.” Carroll Shelby had driven DB3S/3 at Sebring and was now in the UK to race in some local events. Doreen told him, “You just can’t show up, they have rules, so I’ll get your entry forms, we’ll see about getting you some start money”… and then she went about contacting their suppliers for some tires, brake parts and motor oil.

Doreen was rarely let out of her office, John Wyer preferring it that way. While he was away one day, Roy Parnell (and Peter), who was taking a DB3S to test at a local airfield, took Doreen along to keep notes and times. At one point she was in the passenger’s seat as they did laps. After a time Roy stopped the car and told Doreen to get into the driver’s seat. Giving her tips on holding the wheel at 3 & 9 o’clock positions, how to left foot brake, change gears and such. Before the day was out Doreen was doing better than a 100 mph down the straights in a DB3S! Even at 81+ years old (February 2013), Doreen still drives her supercharged Jaguar XJ8R the same way.

Doreen met her late husband Dickie Green in Feltham in 1952. Dickie had joined Wade Engineering in 1948. During his time at Wade, Dickie was at Aston often while they were fitting a supercharger to a DB3. He was there so much that John Wyer offered him a job. Thus Dickie joined Aston Martin in 1952 and became part of the racing department. His responsibilities included building, preparing and pitting for the team cars for all the significant races like Silverstone, Goodwood, LeMans, Monza, Mille Miglia and the Isle of Man.

For the 1955 season Dickie joined MG Competition Dept at BMC under Marcus Chambers, it was here he met Ken Miles, who’d come to drive the EX182 at LeMans that year. After the Monte Carlo Rally, on February 5, 1956, Dickie emigrated to California (Doreen followed in April). In order to enter the USA one would need a sponsor; enter one Ken Miles. The wealthy American was assembling a sports car racing team at that time, and Dickie was coming to California to be part of that team. When he arrived Ken met him at Customs, and shortly thereafter was told that the team was no more. With only $27 in his pocket, Ken left Dickie at a local Los Angeles motel and told him to go see this joker Tony in the morning. The next day Dickie walked a couple blocks to meet Tony Paravono. During the interview, Tony being Tony, he was being hardnosed about the job. Suddenly the phone rang and Dickie became part of the conversation. When Tony got off the phone, Dickie asked Tony,“Who was on the phone, if you don’t mind me asking?” “It was that goddamn Shelby!” Tony said. Thus Dickie was employed by Paravono taking care of his Ferraris, and in a very short time was the Shop Foreman.

In April Doreen came to America, and she too would need a sponsor, Tony Paravono was that sponsor!  Like any new resident, Dickie had to get a California drivers license. You’d never believe it, but Dickie went in Tony’s 250 TDF Ferrari! (This same car can be seen a few pages into this section, http://www.offroadexperience.com/wcb/aminfo.htm). One day a young kid in a leather jacket riding a motorcycle comes into the shop and chats up Dickie… this was a young Dan Gurney. Dickie convinced Tony to test Dan at Willow Springs in the “coupe”, meaning the TDF Ferrari. During the test all was going well until Dan went off the road and blew a hole in the fuel tank. Tony went mad! As Doreen tells it, he was standing next to her, he got very vocal and nasty… “Get that goddamn kid out of my sight!” (when I saw Dan at Willow Spring in 1997 – I think – I was there racing my Ducatis and he’d come to watch… we talked about that test all those years before. Dan said, “It was the only job I was ever lost.”

During this time Dickie & Doreen had a wonderful time! They bought an XK140XMC from Joe Lubin, traveled about California to the races and met some of the (now great) drivers of that time. Carroll and Ken they already knew, now enter Dan Gurney, Skip Hudson, Phil Hill, Bobby Drake, Masten Gregory, Lance Reventlow, Steve McQueen, and mums favorite… Ritchie Ginther. Ritchie use to come to lunch every Sunday (when not racing) at Dickie & Doreen’s where he’d get Doreen to make tuna casserole!

Richard would again join Aston Martin in 1958, this time as Resident Engineer for David Brown-Aston Martin, based in San Leandro, CA. The Green’s involvement with Aston continued for many years thereafter.

Silicon Valley Reinvents the Automobile

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Blackhawk Museum
3700 Blackhawk Museum
Danville, CA 94506

VW
Western Automotive Journalists (WAJ), in conjunction with SAE International’s Mid-Cal Section, will host an event, “Silicon Valley Reinvents the Automobile” on Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, CA. The subject is nothing short of a reality check on the evolution of the automobile since Silicon Valley entered the car business. Almost all of the automakers worldwide have established a presence in Silicon Valley, listening and learning what the tech community it up to.

What’s been learned has been absorbed and has migrated into the cars we’re driving today and will likely have an even greater impact on cars of the near future. At this special meeting we will be highlighting technology and human interaction with technology as it relates to the vehicle, specifically looking at what has been and is being developed in the Bay Area, including everything from infotainment, autonomous control, batteries, safety equipment, the connected car and more.

The program will feature a panel discussion from representatives of the auto industry’s Silicon Valley labs, a keynote speaker addressing what this “reinvented automobile” might be like and an audience of automotive journalists and industry professionals. The program will also feature displays and demonstrations from auto companies. Displays outside the museum will begin at 2 p.m., including Stanley, the fully-automated Volkswagen Touareg that won the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005, the latest advanced vehicle project from engineering students at San Jose State University, a Volkswagen Jetta TDI that has been running on algae-based biofuel for the past year and a 2013 Ram with the UConnect system, named the 2012 Technology of the Year by AOL Autos.

In addition to the display vehicles, a ride-and-drive hosted by Volkswagen will demonstrate some of the features developed in Silicon Valley found in a Jetta Hybrid and Beetle TDI.

The panel discussion, moderated by Wired Magazine’s Damon Lavrinc, will start at 3:30 p.m. and include Catherine Lovazzano, a San Francisco-based “futurist” (Senior Manager, Consumer Trends and Foresight) for Chrysler/Fiat; Dan Phillips, who’ll be giving the first public report on Solazyme‘s year-long 100% algal-based biodiesel project with Volkswagen, Chunhee Lee, deputy director of Volkswagen’s ERL in Belmont (CA) and others. There will be additional panelists. After a Q&A session, the panel will conclude at 5 p.m. A social hour will give attendees a chance to review the afternoon’s discussion and tour the museum.

Dinner and keynote will begin at 6:15 p.m. Sven Beiker, executive director of Stanford University’s CARS program, will speak on “What Silicon Valley can offer the auto industry” and Andrew Smart, director of society programs and industry relations for SAE International will address “What automotive engineers need from Silicon Valley.”

Time will be allotted for a vigorous question-and-answer period.

More information on the speakers will be forthcoming shortly, but you can reserve your place at the event here.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Paul Ingrassia

Thursday, May 24th
Basque Cultural Center

6:00 PM Dinner
7:00 PM WAJ Meeting
7:30 PM Featured Speaker: Pulitzer Prize winning author Paul Ingrassia
Subject: His new book “ENGINES OF CHANGE: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars”

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has chronicled the auto industry for more than 25 years, and the current deputy editor-in-chief of Reuters, Paul Ingrassia traces the cultural evolution of America through 15 cars that helped define a nation: DeLorean’s Corvette, the VW Beetle, the Chevy Corvair, Robert McNamara and Lee Iacocca’s Mustang, the Pontiac GTO, Honda’s Accord, the BMW 3 Series, and the Jeep, among others. ENGINES OF CHANGE details the rise of American manufacturing, the suburbanization of the country, the birth of the Hippy and the Yuppy, the emancipation of women and the unintended consequences of trial lawyers, energy crises, and pollution.