Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Tribute to Kara Hendrick 

At the 2016 Chili Bowl in Tulsa Oklahoma , Shannon McQueen and her McQueen Racing team will debut a white, pink, and blue #7 midget with the same look as the three-quarter midget that Kara Hendrick drove during her career. McQueen’s midget race car, known as ‘A Tribute to Kara Hendrick,’ will be campaigned throughout the 2016 season.

While Shannon is known as being the first female owner/driver to win a USAC (United States Auto Club) midget feature in 2012, as well as championships with USAC Western States (2012) and the BCRA (Bay Cities Racing Association) in 2011, she knows that Kara Hendrick created these opportunities for her and other women who aspired to be race car drivers.

Shannon attributes her ability to move up through the racing ranks to Hendrick, saying "Kara opened doors for female drivers like me. I never would have been the first female driver to win a USAC Western States Midget feature or championship because Kara would have already done it."

On October 5 1991, after earlier setting a new track record at El Cajon Speedway, Kara died of head injuries in a violent crash at just 22 years of age. Kara started racing ¼ midgets at age 9, won numerous ¼ midget races and a National Grand Championship. 

In 1989, Kara won her first ¾ midget feature race, and became only the third women to win a USAC feature. Kara went on to finish second in the 1989 USAC Western States three-quarter midget series point standings, at the time the highest finish ever for a female driver.

In 2003, USAC announced the creation of the Kara Hendrick Spirit Award, which is awarded to a female driver that demonstrates the same determination, talent, and character traits that Kara did during her racing career.  Winners of the Spirit Award have included Erin Crocker, Sondi Eden, Sarah McCune, Jessica Bean, and Stephanie Mockler.  Following her USAC Western States Midget Championship in 2012, Shannon was named the recipient of this prestigious award. 

For Shannon, this was a huge honor, as she looked up to Kara and her racing accomplishments and during the 2016 season, the 25th anniversary of Kara's loss, Shannon will  honor Kara and her legacy.  

photographs and information provided by McQueen Racing

Friday, December 18, 2015

WELD announced their 2016 Brand Ambassadors 
at the PRI 2015 Show

Founded in 1967 by United States Auto Club (USAC) sprint car champion Greg Weld, WELD Racing is the undisputed leader in maximum performance wheels. Whether it’s hard core off road, on the track, or on the street, WELD wheels have unleashed the performance potential of all types of machines for nearly 50 years.

WELD designs, engineers and manufactures one, two and three piece wheels from aircraft quality forged aluminum at their 140,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Kansas City, Missouri. Each wheel is torture tested in an in-house destructive testing laboratory before it ever sees the street or track. WELD manufactures all rim shells in-house to insure quality and uncompromising performance.

During a news conference at the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) 2015 show in Indianapolis last week, WELD Racing President and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Norman Young announced the company’s brand ambassadors for the 2016 race season. They include:

Drag Racing

John Force Racing  - John Force, Courtney Force, Brittany Force, Robert Hight - NHRA Funny Car and Top Fuel
Clay Millican, NHRA Top Fuel
Eric Enders-Stevens, NHRA Pro Stock
Ashley Sanford, NHRA Top Alcohol dragster

Oval Track

Jarett Andretti, USAC sprint car
Brian Brown, ASCS, World of Outlaws sprint car
Joe Gaerte Racing team – World of Outlaws sprint car
Damion Gardner USAC/CRA sprint car
KKR (Kasey Kahne Racing - Daryn Pittman and Brad Sweet, World of Outlaws sprint car

For more information, visit WELD Racing’s website at

Information for this article was provided by PRI & SEMA staff. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

HPD committed to development of the open wheel stars of tomorrow

Honda Performance Development (HPD) demonstrated their commitment to the development of future open-wheel racers at the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) 2015 show by displaying the company’s two quarter midget racing engines. Honda Performance Development established in 1993, is the United States based racing arm of Honda with over 150 employees at two locations in Santa Clarita California and Brownsburg Indiana.   
courtesy of USAC
Honda makes on-track competition accessible through affordable products and a racer support program in open-wheel, short-track, and touring-series racing.  Honda has developed a system known as “The Honda Racing Ladder” which powers a racer’s passions at nearly any level of the sport. Honda is the title sponsor of the United States Auto Club's 1/4 midget national championship.

Photo courtesy of HPD

Quarter midgets, which as the name implies are about ¼ the size of a regular midget race car, date back to before World War II highlighted by tiny cars built in the nineteen thirties by Indianapolis race car builder ‘Pop’ Dreyer and the series of cars produced by Maytag Incorporated known as ‘Maytag Racers’ powered  by the same one-cylinder “Multi-Motor” that powered the company’s washing machines.  As popular as quarter midget racing was before the War, the sport exploded in the nineteen fifties, with nearly 40 manufacturers, and in 1957, 17 tracks and 3000 registered drivers in Northern California alone. Modern-day race drivers who graduated from quarter midgets include Jeff Gordon, Sarah Fisher, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski.

Photo by the author

HPD offers two quarter midget engines; both are air-cooled single cylinder four stroke design with a single camshaft operating two valves per cylinder. The engine block is forged steel while the piston is forged aluminum and 91 octane unleaded gasoline is fed through a carburetor and sparked by a magneto. The only difference between the engines is the displacement; the engine of the left is 120 CC (cubic centimeters) while the larger engine on the right displaces 160 CC.  
Photo courtesy of HPD
With these Honda Performance  Development racing engines there is not telling how far the future racing stars of tomorrow can move up the racing ladder, to Honda-powered  midgets, Formula Lites, or perhaps even INDYCAR.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Honda introduced a new engine at PRI 2015

Honda introduced a new engine at PRI 2015

Photo by the author

At a press conference held Friday December 11 at the Honda Performance Development (HPD) booth at the 2105 PRI (Performance Racing Industry) show in Indianapolis, HPD introduced their newest more powerful turbocharged engine for the 2016 Formula Lites series.  Speakers at the press conference included HPD’s manager of Commercial Motorsports Jeff Barrow, Group-A Racing team manger Jonathon Scarallo, 18-year old Group-A Racing development driver Jackie Ding, and retired IndyCar driver Derek Daly.
A view of the Formula Lites machine. Photo courtesy of Formula Lites
The Formula Lites series, founded by Dennis McCormack debuted in 2015 as a cost-effective reliable professional driver development racing series with a Crawford Composites FL15 chassis built to FIA Formula 3 series specifications powered by the four-cylinder Honda K24 racing engine similar to the USAC midget ‘spec’ engine riding on Fikse wheels shod with Pirelli tires. The inaugural season featured six weekends of racing with two races a weekend for a total of twelve races. For 2016, Formula Lites will expand to an eight weekend – sixteen race schedule, with the location of two of the venues yet to be announced.
The 2016 Formula Lites car on display at PRI 2015.
photos by the author
Honda Performance Development established in 1993, is the United States based racing arm of Honda with over 150 employees at two locations in Santa Clarita California and Brownsburg Indiana. Jeff Barrow, HPD’s manager of Commercial Motorsports, introduced the crowd around the PRI 2015 booth to the new Honda engine for the 2016 Formula Lites series- the HPD 2-liter dual overhead camshaft four-cylinder ‘next-generation’ K20 122 cubic inch engine with turbocharging, estimated to produce 260 horsepower.

Group-A Racing team manger Jonathon Scarallo reported that his team had competed in the entire 2015 Formula Lites series with Mexican driver Jose Armida and Chinese driver Jackie Ding and the pair scored 15 podium finishes and two race wins.
Jackie Ding in action in a Formula Lites car in 2015.
Photo courtesy of Jackie Ding 
Jackie Ding started racing just two seasons ago as he got his start in the Skip Barber Regional Series before he stepped up  to SCCA Pro Racing with Group-A Racing sponsored by Huawei, EVE Energy, and Zone District Clothing.  During the 2015 Formula Lites season, Ding recorded nine top five finishes and one race win. After praising the adjustable aerodynamics of the Crawford chassis, Ding announced that he would be returning the Formula Lites series with more horsepower in 2106. “I’m very excited to be back with Group-A Racing and campaigning in Formula Lites” said Ding “Everyone at Group-A helped me ever since the beginning of my career, and I fully appreciate what they have done for me. With one year of experience in the Crawford FL15 already, I can’t wait to go out and fight for this year’s Formula Lites title.”

Derek Daly  announced that he would be present a one-hour no-cost seminar at the PRI show on Saturday morning for young drivers and their parents entitled “What If It’s You?”  Daly has a great understanding of the challenges and opportunities that young drivers face when transitioning from grassroots racing to the professional ranks. Daly’s program lays out a five-year development plan that develops skills for “the complete package ,” and how drivers need to position themselves for success with teams and manufacturers.

For more details visit:





Tuesday, December 15, 2015

PRI 2105 news

Xtrac unveiled its special 100th IndyCar
gearbox at PRI 2015

photograph of Xtrac P1011 gearbox #100 at PRI 2015 by the author

During the 2015 PRI (Performance Racing Industry) show in Indianapolis, Xtrac unveiled its 100th IndyCar P1011 gearbox which has been specially modified as a cut-away to show its inner workings. This gearbox will be presented to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum during May 2016 in honor of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500-mile race.   

Xtrac, founded in 1984, entered the Indianapolis-type car marketplace in 1989, and Xtrac gearbox components won their first Indianapolis ‘500’ in 1991 riding with Rick Mears in his Penske PC-20 Illmor Chevrolet, who won from the pole position and became the third four-time winner of the historic race.  Xtrac followed up with wins with Al Unser Junior’s Galmer G92-Chevrolet in 1992 and Jacques Villeneuve’s amazing come-from-behind win at the controls of the Team Green Ford XB-powered Reynard in 1995. When the checkered flag falls on the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 29.2016, Xtrac will record its 23rd Indianapolis ‘500’ win, and sixteenth consecutive ‘500’ victory.   

Xtrac was the exclusive gearbox supplier to the Indy Racing League (IRL) from 2000 through 2010 with its type 195 and 295 gearboxes, then with INDYCAR as the exclusive supplier to the present day with the P1011 gearbox.  Xtrac opened its 9000 square foot Indianapolis facility at 1685 West 80th Street in 2002, and began building gearboxes in Indianapolis in 2009.
Photograph of typical P1011 gearbox provide by Xtrac

The casing of the P1011 INDYCAR 6-speed (plus reverse) non-synchromesh gearbox is heat-treated L169 machinable aluminum casting alloy and includes a large deformable crash structure to help absorb energy from rear impacts. The drive inside the casing is fed from the engine directly to the gear change cluster and two pairs of straight-cut drop gears which in turn drive a hard cut Klingelnberg bevel set.  
The Xtrac P1011 bevel set drives a lightweight spool with integral output flanges for oval racing use or an adjustable plate type differential on road courses. Gear changes are accomplished using the Megaline AGS (Assisted Gearchange System) a microprocessor controlled pneumatic system that allows the driver to shift via paddles on the steering wheel of the Dallara DW12. The complete gearbox weighs just 154 pounds.  

The specially modified cut-away P1011 gearbox #100 was built by Simon Short, Xtrac’s first apprentice who has been with the company for 25 years. “Since Simon joined the company in 1990, Xtrac has continued with our highly successful apprentice programs and investment in new technologies,’ according to Vice President Andrew Heard, ‘we are very proud of our past history with the 500, and Xtrac is honored to take place in the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The formal presentation of Xtrac P1011 gearbox #100 will take place during the month of May in ceremonies leading up to the race, and the gearbox will be on permanent display in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum. 
Information for this article provided by Xtrac. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

“Doc are you telling me you built a time machine………out of a Toyota?”
In honor of “Back to the Future” day, October 21, 2015, Toyota Motor North America introduced a customized hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to pay homage to the famous DeLorean time machine in the nineteen eighties film series.  The car was also a featured vehicle in the Toyota booth at the 2015 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas.  

The Back to the Future tribute car was designed and fabricated  by MV Designz of Orange California is based on the Toyota Mirai (which means future in Japanese)  fuel cell vehicle which is currently for sale in selected markets in the United States.
 The tribute car features the trademark gull-wing doors, stainless steel-like finish, air suspension, 19-inch diameter wheels,  a faux flux capacitor and a Mr. Fusion ™ home energy reactor that Doc Brown’s DeLorean sported in the film Back to the Future part II.
Vehicle information provided by Toyota Motor Sales, photographs by the author

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Clayzilla system
The appearance of their cars is important to an auto enthusiast, but that great appearance cannot require a big investment in money, time, or effort.  At the 2015 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas, Surf City Garage introduced their patented  ClayZilla system which meets the enthusiasts’ needs.  ClayZilla is the first major innovation in surface preparation  and paint restoration since the clay bar was invented in 1990.
Surf City Garage says that ClayZilla:

-          Lasts 5 times longer than a clay bar
-          Restores a car’s paint at a fraction of a clay bar’s cost
-          Gives you a Monster Shine® and smooth-as-glass surface
-          Is ultra-safe – no embedded contaminants ever
-          Is extremely easy to use.
The ClayZilla Surface Prep System which retails for $24.99 includes:
-          The ClayZilla ergonomic hand-held tool
-          A replaceable Zilla Pad® lasts for up to 20 cars
-          One 8oz bottle of Zilla Juice® Detailer for lubrication

ClayZilla ( is available directly from Surf City Garage ( and, starting in early 2016, at Advance Auto Parts, Pep Boys and Walmart. Watch the video at:
The product information and photograph for this article were provided by Surf City Garage

Friday, December 4, 2015

Garage Italia Customs  ‘Terra Arsa’ project

The cars of the Terra Arsa project on display
For their latest ‘Terra Arsa’ (Sunbaked Earth) project, Garage Italia Customs used the  Mercedes-Benz luxury SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) lineup as their canvas to create an automotive homage to the “spaghetti western” films of Italian film director Sergio Leone, which included such Clint Eastwood classics as ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.’
Mercedes-Benz GLC 250d 4Matic with Garage Italia Customs wrap
To complete the concept of an adventure on the rocky sandy landscape featured in the Leone films, Garage Italia Customs created a three-dimensional bodywork effect reminiscent of the desert’s sunbaked earth, which can in fact be felt by simply touching the bodywork of these cars. The Garage Italia Customs craftsmen applied wraps to the entire Mercedes-Benz SUV linkup: the G-class, GLA,  GLC, GLE and GLE coupe, first applying an opaque satin-effect film followed by a black embossed texture to create the cracked effect. The colors used on the range of Mercedes-Benz SUVs  cross the spectum from gold/bronze to charcoal gray.  
At this angle, the texture of the wrap is evident
According to Garage Italia Customs Style Center director Carlo Borromeo “We believe that car wrapping is more than just changing color to a vehicle- we give it a new personality! That is why we are so proud to have once again demonstrated our competence in creating exclusive tailor-made customizations.”

A close-up view of the wrap

For authenticity, all the photography which accompanies this article, provided by Garage Italia Customs, was performed in the desert of Almeria, the southern Spanish seaside province where Sergio Leone filmed his classic motion pictures.