COTA’s asphalt is finally “paved” some attention, Discount Tire buys Tire Rack, Jaguar hits three-year pause
Texas’ bump-ridden Circuit of the Americas finally gets some fresh asphalt
Intake: Circuit of the Americas (COTA)—the Austin, Texas, home of the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix and the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas—will get some fresh asphalt this coming February. The news comes from BikeSport News, who heard from FIM Grand Prix Safety Director Franco Uncini that a select section of the track—from turn 2 through 10—will be re-paved. Uncini says that multiple riders at the most recent MotoGP race at COTA complained about the bumpiness of the track, some even threatening not to race next year unless something was done about it. This year’s F1 race at COTA also brought about similar complaints of the surface imperfections from some of the drivers.
Exhaust: The soft clay underlying COTA’s 20 turns shifts when inundated with heavy rains, like those that have plagued Austin the past decade. (COTA’s paddock and tunnel have completely flooded more than once in the facility’s nine-year lifetime.) Not only does the saturated soil settle unevenly; the heavy asphalt gets stretched by the extreme braking forces generated by the likes of Formula 1 cars and MotoGP bikes. Voilà, wrinkles in the pavement. We’re glad the folks at COTA are doing something about it, but don’t expect this to be the last time you hear about bumps in Austin.
Brinkerhoff braves Antarctica
Intake: Renee Brinkerhoff and her Valkyrie Racing team have reached Union Glacier, Antarctica to begin their 356-mile adventure across the ice. The journey will complete the 65-year-old philanthropist’s epic 20,000-mile, seven-continent drive in her Porsche 356. Project 356 World Rally has seen Brinkerhoff compete in the Peking-Paris, La Carrera Panamericana and East African Safari rallies to increase awareness and raise money to aid women and child victims of human trafficking. Having raised nearly $500,000 so far Brinkerhoff hopes this final push across the harshest terrain will achieve her million-dollar goal. In order to complete this adventure Brinkerhoff’s Porsche has become the only 356 ever to be fitted with caterpillar tracks, alongside a number of other modifications for the extreme cold.
Exhaust: If Brinkerhoff completes this final leg of her quest it will be the culmination of almost ten years of effort for a very worthy cause. You can support her at the Valkyrie Gives charitable organization where you will also find the chance to win a vintage Porsche 356A restored by UK-based Tuthill Porsche.
Triumph’s double celebration marks 120 years and one million motorcycles
Intake: Britain’s Triumph is, understandably, feeling rather triumphant. As the company marks 120 years since it was originally founded, it has also just assembled the one millionth bike built since Triumph was reborn in 1990. That bike is a Tiger 900 Rally Pro with custom silver paint and special graphics, but it won’t be sold. Instead the all-terrain tourer will go on display at a new exhibition at the Triumph Factory Visitor Experience at Hinckley, Leicestershire.
CEO Nick Boor says, “Everyone at Triumph is incredibly proud to have played a part in achieving such a momentous moment in the modern history of this iconic brand. Over the 31 years since we re-launched Triumph with a new line of British designed motorcycles in Cologne in 1990, we have shared so many great moments with our fans across the world. From returning to the TT champions arena, to entering the MotoGP paddock with our Moto2mEngine partnership, to supporting the biggest global riding event and its great cause for health and wellbeing with the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, to mention only a few. Triumph’s success has always stemmed from the passion and commitment we share with our riders.”
Exhaust: The first Triumph motorcycle went on sale in April 1902 fitted with a Minerva engine. A year later the company had achieved 500 sales, but today’s Triumph is a totally different story with 700 dealers in 57 countries selling some 75,000 bikes a year. That’s plenty to celebrate.
Discount Tire to acquire Tire Rack, road hazard protection unavailable
Intake: Two famous names in the tire-and-wheel game joined forces recently to form a mega retailer of rolling stock for vehicles of various shapes, sizes, and performance intentions. While both sides are giving us the warm and fuzzies with reassuring quotes, the two privately held organizations remained tight-lipped on details, aside from the fact that Tire Rack continues to have a headquarters that’s “being maintained in South Bend, Indiana.” Vague remarks aside, the road ahead is likely stronger together, as retail heavyweights like Dealer Tire, Goodyear, and Firestone own a large percentage of the fleet and B2C market.
Exhaust: Consolidation seems to be the name of the game these days, if perhaps only when it comes to automotive-focused retailers. This is likely a win-win for both organizations. Consider that Tire Rack, a significantly smaller organization (based on employee count on Wikipedia) likely needed to integrate with a larger company to ensure its online retail and enthusiast customer-service slant doesn’t lose momentum. And Discount Tire, with a strong retail and fleet presence with actual, physical locations, now has a big enthusiast feather in its cap, not unlike that time when 3M bought Meguiar’s.
Toyota picks North Carolina site for U.S. automotive battery plant
Intake: Toyota’s first North American battery plant—a $1.29 billion investment to create batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles—will reside in Randolph County, North Carolina. The company made the announcement on Monday at a jubilant press conference attended by Toyota executives and North Carolina political and community leaders. Toyota expects the plant to create 1750 jobs and suggested there could be a Phase 2 of the project that would result in 3875 jobs and a total investment of about $3 billion. The Southeast is suddenly becoming a popular location for EV production. In June, Volvo Car Group announced that the upcoming Polestar 3 all-electric SUV would be built in South Carolina, while Ford announced in September that it is building two plants in Tennessee and Kentucky that will produce electric F-Series trucks and the batteries to power future electric Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
Exhaust: Toyota’s announcement is good news for both the automaker, which vows to reach carbon neutrality for its vehicles and operations by 2050—a far more conservative timeline than other OEMs—and for the Greensboro-Randolph area. One community leader said the process took about 10 years to reach fruition, and obviously the hard work paid off. How many other automakers may soon establish a manufacturing home in the Southeast?
Jaguar’s posh, electric reinvention requires three-year pause on new models
Intake: Jaguar wants to cultivate a higher-dollar, higher-glam portfolio, but its upcoming family of high-falutin’ electric vehicles requires sacrifice. For the next three years, no new models will be forthcoming from the British brand, reports Le Monde. “The brand is looking forward; 2025 is barely three years away,” Phillipe Robbrecht, president of JLR-France, told his native publication. He glosses over what will undoubtedly be a turbulent time for the already ailing brand: A €3B about-face from internal combustion to battery power will not come easily.
Exhaust: Jaguar wants to play ball with Bentley, Aston Martin, and Porsche, leaving Land Rover to fight for the hearts of BMW and Audi customers. We’d love to see Jaguar recapture the prestige of yesteryear, but the success of the brand depends just as much on savvy financial management as on creative design and sound engineering. Jaguar management won’t be relaxing any time soon.