Weekly Roundup: Last To First In Thirty Seconds Edition

This was the start of Sunday morning’s race. I went from last place at the start to first by the second corner. First in class, I should mention. This was a multi-class race and I was in Super Touring 6, the slowest of the NASA Touring classes. I didn’t hold the position; after catching the slide at the end of the video I had to settle for 2nd place past the start/finish flag at the end of Lap One. And I ended up getting disqualified because the race officials felt I was too aggressive during a mid-race restart after a double yellow flag. Naturally, I disagree. If you’re not here to race, don’t bring your race car to the race track, where racing is known to happen.

My car, the 1994 Plymouth Neon I built in 2008 with a team of friends, isn’t faster than the other cars. In fact, it’s slower than every car you see in this video. The difference is that I have faith in myself and I never lift off the throttle. I believe I can see things that other racers cannot. It is the gift God gave me in exchange for all my other failings as a human being.

If only I could share with all of you the absolute confidence I have when I see that green flag wave. If only I could give that to every one of my friends and readers, gift-wrapped and wax-sealed against the hard or painful day when such a feeling might make the difference between getting through and giving up. If only I could pass it down to my son, knowing that he will make better and kinder use of it than I ever could. If only I could capture the moment and hold it for myself, for all the times I feel overwhelmed and overmatched by life. The great thing about racing is that it presents simple problems and accepts simple answers. That, in and of itself, is a gift worth experiencing, enjoying, and sharing.

And yeah, I had to show that I don’t respect the disqualification, because that’s the other, uglier side of the confidence coin. In other news, my spouse had an outstanding set of races in this same weekend. She has finally reached that stage in driver development when you have 98% of the available speed out of the car. The next two percent takes the rest of your life. In her case, this improvement has been the product of diligent, careful work. Last night she worked with her crew chief on data for hours while I played Fornite. Maybe I have the effortless gift and she does not — but she is the one who left the track with the lead in her season championship, and I’m the one who left with a pair of disqualifications and tire marks on three sides of the car. There’s a lesson there, if I could but stand to learn it.

* * *

For Hagerty, I wrote a fake magazine review and waxed nostalgic for proper luxury cars.

60 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Last To First In Thirty Seconds Edition”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    Thanks for doing that spoof on Lambos by Chrysler. I know it will be a long time before it occurs to any of you in your profession to do a similar take on Lambos by Audi, even though those of course are real. Not because they are any different but because it would require you to to think outside the very confining box you all find yourself. What will you do when none of your readers are old enough to remember Lee Iacocca or Roger Smith. I guess you will be at the ready with a new cast of old white buffoon characters to “screw Pooches” while employing hundreds of thousands at living wages only to have there markets stolen by their self proclaimed betters in Asia and the God’s chosen bloodsuckers of Wall Street.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      John, I don’t know how to tell you this but the Lambo-Audis are GOOD CARS. The Gallardo was a bit of a rough start — far too close to an Audi R8 to begin with — but by the fourth year it was a splendid car particularly in quilt-roofed RWD form. The Huracan and Aventador are absolutely tremendous.

      That being said, the “Chrysler” Lamborghini, the original RWD Diablo, is also a great car.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        When you decided to point your bare bottom at the once lush field that was Iacocca era Chrysler, did you really think it would be better with just a little more fertilizer. Or did you realize as the turd dropped that you were sinking in a place already turned into a cesspool from the countless bums that field has had to witness in the years since?

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I have no idea what you’re getting at. We have an artist who creates imaginary cars. That’s it.

          Reply
        • AvatarCJinSD

          Before Lee Iacocca gave us the Mustang and Mark III, nobody realized that American consumers were so unsophisticated that Detroit could stop innovating and focus exclusively on style and marketing. In 1964, American cars were the best cars in the world. In 1970, even GM was breathing a sigh of relief that the hard work was behind them and they could start thinking about how to put a wreath & crest on a Nova. Lee Iacocca is a big reason Detroit needs angry fan-boys launching disproportionate attacks on people who accept reality.

          Reply
          • AvatarCJinSD

            I don’t know. I haven’t driven any Audi-engined Lamborghinis. The last Audi I drove long enough to get a sense of whether or not it was worthwhile was an A7, and I didn’t like it as much as the A6 it replaced. That one I didn’t like enough to sell my Honda, because I still wanted to own something fun to drive. I have driven Iacocca’s Fords and owned Iacocca’s Chryslers. No matter how much I might have wanted them to be, they weren’t good cars. Do you know if Audi Lamborghinis are good cars? What is the basis of your judgement?

          • AvatarJohn C.

            I think if you go by the basis that Mr. Lamborghini set out, faster than a Maserati but not as track oriented, high maintenance, poor riding and badly trimmed as a Ferrari no, I don’t think that Audi Lambos get there. Instead you get a overpowered car trying but ever less getting a 15 year old to say holy cow/shit. Why should they, the style is the same from 1974, the exact year Mr. Lamborghini sold his last shares. Perhaps his last car should have been a 90s AM Virage, because who else was doing what he had in mind?

            Notice the replacement of owners going with clubs on round the world rally/tours meeting Princes and potentates with their bespoke cars with coked up freaks buying track days with paid passengers to guide them through the ersatz video game in their 70s holy cow corporate car. Yuk. Now that is something worthy of a Baruth sneer, and we know he knows enough about it to do it well.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Off the top of my head, I would say:

      * Ride — an SUV or truck will always have a lot more unsprung weight than a sedan, particularly when you look at some of the hundred-pound wheel-and-tire combinations mounted to the bigger ones. An SUV or truck will also have more sprung weight, at a greater distance from the road, with a consequently greater leverage effect.

      * Fuel economy — I love to talk about the 22mpg my 6.2 Silverado can get but that same engine in a Corvette gets 30mpg and in a sedan it would get 27.

      * Noise/vibration/harshness — there’s a reason people didn’t buy wagons unless they needed to back in the day. That big boomy box is hard to keep quiet.

      * Ease of use — a mid-sized sedan with a locking trunk remains the best way to travel in a lot of cases, particularly around cities.

      * Safety — most trucks and SUVs don’t crash as well as sedans, likely because they have relatively short noses.

      That’s what comes immediately to mind.

      Reply
      • Avatarsnorlax

        * Price — Sedans are usually substantially cheaper than a comparably-equipped SUV, and now that sedans aren’t selling well you can often find very good deals in both the new and used markets.

        Reply
      • AvatarJames

        — which is why auto companies promote performance and handling, almost exclusively, as reasons to buy their sedans…

        Reply
  2. AvatarNewbie Jeff

    You guys have some great fields in NASA-GL… is that normal or were the fields above average because people have had cabin fever that past few months?

    Reply
  3. Avatar-Nate

    Another well crafted article .

    This driving gift you have is no small thing ~ I simply can’t do it as well as some and my son has the same gift, it’s wonderful watching him drive / ride to excess .

    I too like older Fleetwood Cadillacs for what they are .

    I don’t like driving land barges but they’re a very special thing I doubt we’ll ever see again .

    -Nate

    Reply
  4. Avatararbuckle

    I’m not a big fan of “total comfort” cars to be honest. When I had my Crown Victoria I did what I could to rod it out with parts from adtr.net and derelict P71s. I have a Genesis G80 now and although I like the car overall it does feel a little too relaxed sometimes.
    I don’t want an Evora S or anything like that, but something in the vein of a Pontiac 2+2 or Mercury Marauder or 300 SRT8 would be great. Not sure what I would have bought in ’76. Probably a Grand Prix with RTS.

    Reply
  5. Avatarstingray65

    Your video clip reminded me of the Disney Film the Love Bug (1968 original) where Herbie with 50 roaring horsepower was blowing by Cobras, Stingrays, E-Types, and Porsches in the corners and on the straights. In the real world, how does the slowest car blow past so many faster cars driven by reasonably skilled drivers in such a short time? You obviously have some serious skills in traffic Jack, but is some of your apparent speed advantage also due to you being less concerned about some sheet metal damage to your old Neon than your competitors are with their fancier cars, and/or have all your exploits with mountain bikes, fast motorcycles, and recovery from crash related surgeries made you less afraid of bodily harm from a serious shunt that hold back many of your competitors, and/or is your Neon haunted by a passive-aggressive soul that hates to follow other cars?

    Reply
    • Avatar-Nate

      Herbie was a 1200C.C. 40HP Bug .

      There’s even a scene where the Asian grocer and Dean Jones are at the back of the car and the grocer says ‘the strength of forty horses !’ .

      -Nate

      Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      I don’t think the speed difference between a 1994 Neon and a 1991 Miata or Integra is anything like the difference between a 1963 Volkswagen and an Apollo GT or Ol’ Yaller MK IV.

      Does the flat black hood do a better job of reducing glare for the driver or maximizing under-hood temperatures on sunny days?

      Reply
          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Apropos of nothing, I should mention that before my last kart race of the day at Gateway last weekend I walked up to the front-runners and said, “If anybody hits me I’m gonna piss myself.”

          • AvatarCJinSD

            I must disclose that I have the best story to sell you that you can never publish, but I’m waiting to find out if the story’s rightful owner has an NDA from Fiat.

  6. Avatarhank chinaski

    They’re allowing Neons in Spec Miata!?!

    Status? Success? Zimmer? Zimmer!
    For a truly awful 80’s film featuring both the Daytona and the concept M4S Interceptor, may I suggest the Charlie Sheen turd, ‘The Wraith’.

    Reply
  7. AvatarGene

    Back in 1988 or so I got myself hired to sell the first batch of Hyundais brought to the Akron area. Godawful cars. My coworkers and I thought we were part of some special program that brought in people who had never sold cars before. I realize now it was because no experienced salesperson wanted anything to do with the things. Scarred me for life. Went back to selling waterbeds; way more profitable than selling Hyundais.

    Now Jack Baruth wants to pay $80,000 for one. Will 2020 ever stop?

    Reply
    • AvatarWill

      They have come a long way, they’re really good cars now. I’d say it’s becoming what Lexus was in the 80s/90s. People laughed at Toyota too. Go and drive a Kia or Hyundai, I think you’ll be surprised.

      Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I think you could replace “1988” with “1968” and “Hyundai” with “Toyota”.

      I’d argue Hyundai is about twenty years behind Toyota at all times. A 2020 Sonata is about as well built and reliable as a 2020 Camry. A 2020 Genesis G90 is much like a 2000 LS430.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        Is that really good enough, whether Toyota or Hyundai/Kia, to abandon your heritage for these half assed products that perhaps are not as bad as China itself, and put whatever prestige you have on the line to say good enough? Please think about what you are saying….

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          In this case, the Genesis G90 has no American competition. There is no longer a full sized American sedan in the market. The closest would be the Cadillac CT6 which is really a midsizer and which is heavily sourced from China.

          Reply
          • Avatar-Nate

            This is very sad indeed but remember : the Auto Manufacturers are not in business to please you, they only want to make money .

            They build what sells, currently this isn’t comfy & quiet Land Barges .

            More’s the pity but I’d never buy a full size American land yacht .

            Nor any imported ones either .

            My brother loves his old Mercedes S-Klasse barges, to damn big for me .

            My son was amazed to learn in his twenties that my old four door 1968 Chevy Malibu was a mid sizer ~ he’d grown up riding in the back seat and thought it was as big as a Caddy .

            -Nate

  8. Avatargtem

    I’m putting the final touches on my own Neon Jack, hoping to hit some practice laps on track next month finally. If all goes well we’ll be caging it over the winter and come next season you’re welcome to come be our hot-shoe driver at the World Famous Indianapolis Speedrome! Rules permit running the car as is but boy after seeing a few of the wrecks this season… no way.

    Reply
      • Avatargtem

        No need! Rules mandate 70+ sidewall street tires (most of the field runs Douglas, Starfire, etc walmart specials). And I doubt we’ll run this thing enough in the near future to ever worry about wearing out our $40-a-pop tires.

        Reply
        • Avatarbenjohnson

          I estimate that chew through about about $150 in tread on my fancy-pants tires every time I go to Track Night in America and consider the money well spent.

          I do know expensive winter tires have kept me out of the ditch a few times here in the Pacific Northwest so perhaps I’m prone to throwing money at tire.

          Reply
    • AvatarNick D

      If you want an outstanding cage, check out Thompson Racing Fabrication near Traverse City, MI. The beauty of the TIG welds alone are worth the price, never mind the fittament and engineering.

      Reply
  9. AvatarGeorge Denzinger

    I’m glad someone else remembered the Decepzione. Finally, Chrysler was going to benefit from the money they sunk into Lamborghini…

    Ooops, I guess not.

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      Why was the engine so tall? The Decepzione had a domed hood, an inch and a half of ground clearance to the oil pan, and yet there still wasn’t any room left for an air-cleaner. I think the engines were pretty decent. There was a beater Jalpa running around Pacific Beach in the last twenty years. I never saw a top on it, the interior was in shreds, but it sounded racy and was a regular sight in the parking lots of Von’s grocery and the best cheap taco shops.

      Reply
      • AvatarGeorge Denzinger

        In some ways, the idea of the car sounded like one of those “14 beers later” moments to me. For all of the fmcking around to install the motor and the AWD system no one could think, hey the oil pan is too low. Let’s cobble up a dry sump system. We can probably get most of that stuff from Summit…

        Reply
        • AvatarCJinSD

          It seems unthinkably ridiculous, but of course there was the Chrysler TC by Maserati. A few of which were powered by engines with bespoke twin-cam 16-valve heads made by Maserati coupled to five-speed transmissions. Then they started using the same engines in them they offered in every other K-car variant, coupled to the same automatic transmissions used in everything from Daytonas to minivans. I believe some have Mitsubishi V6s. The Decepzione could have been developed to the point where some guy in the mid ’90s needed a thirty-thousand dollar engine rebuild for his fifty-thousand mile, five-thousand dollar used car.

          Reply
          • AvatarGeorge Denzinger

            I couldn’t afford coke back in the 80’s (can’t afford it now, either), but man that must have been a fantastic power trip the big three automakers were on. In the mid 80’s they decided they needed to buy up all of the exotic car makers and gave us all this weird stuff to talk about 30 years later.

            I get the idea the D3 wanted to have “prestige” cars and some were better thought out than others (Allante), but Chrysler downgraded their cars quickly and badly. Or maybe the typical Sansabelt-wearing Chrysler customers weren’t too keen about having to repair their new $40K “prestige” car every 10K miles… And then find out you can get almost the same thing further down the lot for TENS OF THOUSANDS less.

      • Avatarsnorlax

        My guess is that further development of the Decepzione was stopped because its projected price point was encroaching on Viper territory.

        Reply
  10. AvatarKevin Jaeger

    Any chance we’ll see video of the restart that got you disqualified? The start was impressive but didn’t seem to have any controversial moves.

    Reply
  11. AvatarEric L.

    This video was recommended after the NASA one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNHnWxw9SfY

    Geez, no wonder your son beats guys my age. Thank goodness he’s still on tiny wheels, can you imagine how fast he’d fly over those rock gardens on 29ers? I have countless more hours of practice on my manual technique, and pumping, to casually clear those jumps like he did. 😭 I’m not sure I even have enough understanding of how to use my body weight to navigate my XL frame Rockhopper on those boards.

    I upgraded to handmade, tubeless Continentals last weekend and finally had a chance to put them through their paces this weekend. Verdict: Specialized should be ashamed to sell tires, but their pre-taped 2Bliss system works fine with Conti’s Revo Selant. The 29×2.4″ Trail King up front, with a 29×2.3″ Cross King in the back, were simply astounding. You can lean the bike until the pedal scrapes the ground and still have traction.

    My skepticism that Continental can somehow make a lackluster bike tire, while still making such fantastic summer car tires (and the DWS Extreme) was correct. I also finally found a decent set of XC rubber for my son’s 24″ hardtail: Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron in 2.1″. He gave them the official thumbs up. Long live German rubber!

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The Rocket Ron is fantastic — my son uses them now on his 26-inch Trailcraft which replaced the bike in that video a few months ago and can be seen here:

      After multiple flats with the Maxxis Aggressor DHR and DHF I’m now using the Michelin Wild Enduro in 2.4. So far all the news is good.

      Continental’s 28c road bike tire — I’ve forgotten the name but it’s the one with the extra flat protection — is beyond outstanding.

      Reply
  12. AvatarDr. Racer

    “And yeah, I had to show that I don’t respect the disqualification, because that’s the other, uglier side of the confidence coin.”Don’t respect the disqualification, what does that even mean? You get dq’ed because you drive like a total idiot who has no respect for competitors or others on track. What you think is intimidation is poor impulse control and an apparent desire to be the most loathed driver in the Midwest. I can affirm that last statement is now fulfilled.

    Reply
  13. AvatarJason

    What you did at mid Ohio was not racing. That was your own personal demolition derby. You were able to pass the whole field because they were avoiding you. They don’t trust you because you drive careless and don’t follow the rules. How many cars did you hit over the weekend? Have you seen any of the in car footage from the other racers? It’s bad. Your best bet now would be to apologize to the entire st6 field, and the drivers of the out of class cars you wrecked. Take a step back and really think about what you did out there.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Nobody was avoiding shit haha.

      I hit the same number of cars as Mike Weber: three. One got hit because he passed me and Ambruster under double yellow and shouldn’t have been anywhere near me. Tex claimed he hit me because he was avoiding the car ahead of him. There was no car ahead of him. Weber tried to close the door on me and failed. If you disagree come talk to me about it at Autobahn. I’m not hard to find.

      Reply

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