GT-R-swapped VW Thing, vintage metal to run Corkscrew backwards, Ferrari Hypercar shows skin
GT-R-swapped 1974 VW is the wildest Thing you’ve ever seen
Intake: Ever wondered what would happen if The Thing met Godzilla? Thanks to Canadian genius Tim Schmidt, we now know. After his R35 Nissan GT-R was damaged in a fire, Schmidt decided to build the wildest Thing the world has ever seen. Oddball Customs in Oxbridge, Ontario, took the chassis of the 700-hp 2017 GT-R and the body of Schmidt’s 1974 VW, and did some crazy Frankenstein-style grafting to make the two meet. The GT-R chassis had to be shortened by 16 inches and the Thing’s metalwork required widening, but amazingly it all came together. Weighing in at under 2000 pounds, this must be the fastest Thing ever built.
Exhaust: This probably isn’t what VW had in mind when it launched the military-derived Type 181 Thing, but how can you not applaud the madness? Schmidt lost an awful lot in the fire which ruined the donor GT-R, including a Porsche 911, an Ares Design Bentley, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, so it’s wonderful to see a phoenix rising from the flames. — Nik Berg
In support of RPM Act, PRI turns up the heat on lawmakers
Intake: Performance Racing Industry (PRI) has expanded its advocacy efforts to further promote and protect motor vehicle racing. To streamline the process for industry professionals, enthusiasts, and fans to join the fight to preserve racing, PRI’s Save Our Racecars initiative features a redesigned website (SaveOurRacecars.com) that includes a “Vote Racing” program to help facilitate voter registration and highlight pro-racing political candidates. Supporters will also find PRI-created template letters, phone scripts, and other helpful resources to use while reaching out to lawmakers. Critical to the industry’s future—and central to PRI’s advocacy efforts—is the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act of 2021 (H.R. 3281/S.2736), which must be enacted into law to protect the right to modify street cars, trucks, and motorcycles into dedicated race vehicles. The RPM Act reverses the EPA’s interpretation that the Clean Air Act does not allow a motor vehicle designed for street use to be converted into a dedicated race car.
Exhaust: While the RPM Act continues to languish in the hands of committees, PRI is hoping its efforts will spark movement towards its passing. If you want to join the fight to preserve racing—or if you weren’t aware that it was under attack and would like to learn more—check out the website. PRI has made it easy to support the right to convert street vehicles into dedicated race vehicles, an American tradition for more than a century. — Jeff Peek
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion to run Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew … backwards
Intake: In a historic first, racers will run the iconic Corkscrew at Laguna Seca uphill to conclude the festivities of the 2022 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion held August 17–20. “When the decision was made to reduce the number of idle days between the Monterey Pre-Reunion and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, the Monterey Motorsports Reunion Advisory Council and our team developed a more community day approach to make it a true party in the paddock,” explained John Narigi, president and general manager of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Sunday’s two hillclimb sessions will be open to 60 cars that competed during the weekend along with a few selected guests. Spectators will help crown the winner.
Exhaust: We’ve been Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion fans for ages, and if you’ve seen our coverage of the event from previous years, you’ve heard us proselytize about it being the best event on the peninsula during Car Week. Giving fans a new way to appreciate these cars is only going to make the event better this year, since the Corkscrew is the one turn that is unmistakably Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca. The track is already very spectator-friendly, and the hills on the infield side of the Corkscrew make for fantastic vantage points. With this year’s historic classes centered on Le Mans racers, the sights and sounds of the hillclimb will be, for most spectators, utterly unprecedented. —Brandan Gillogly
Maybe third time’s the charm for Norton and the Commando 961
Intake: Many companies have their name tied to one specific model, but none are quite as identified with a single product as Norton and the Commando. It’s a bike that built the company in the ’60s, and with which Kenny Dreer attempted to rebuild it in the mid-to-late 2000s. For the second time, the Commando is the linchpin of plans to revitalize Norton, now owned by India’s TVS. The photos on Norton’s website show a motorcycle visually identical to one offered by Norton before its 2020 bankruptcy, but since the bike now needs to be Euro 5 emissions compliant, there are likely more than a few things reworked underneath its skin.
Exhaust: The story behind Norton’s rebirth has plenty of twists and turns, but the TVS ownership is one that gives us hope. Following the problems with production and delivery of the V4SS superbike, Norton needs the management of a large, focused group like TVS. With any luck, third time will prove the charm and the Commando 961 can resurrect a brand that will go on to create even more interesting machines. — Kyle Smith
Hyundai’s performance division preps for a party on July 14
Intake: The next chapter for Hyundai’s sporty N Division will be opened on July 14 and it’ll be electrifying—as you can see from the teaser video above, which begins with the crackle of a boosted i30N hot hatch and swiftly moves on to the whirr of an EV and a bolt of lightning. “N loves corners ‘cuz it’s fun,” reads a caption, followed by “But soon, fun evolves.” Further posts on the South Korean brand’s social media have teased a be-winged version of the upcoming Ioniq 6 four-door coupe, a blue blur that might be a speedier Ioniq 5, and the silhouette of something even racier. All will be revealed next week.
Exhaust: Hyundai describes its N cars as “Born in Namyang, honed at Nürburgring,” a pithy phrase given more weight by the presence of erstwhile BMW M boss Albert Biermann at the head of the N division from 2015 to 2021. (He’s still with Hyundai but has since taken an Europe-based position as a technical advisor.) The department’s near-300-hp Elantra N and Kona N models are proof that the team produces driving thrills, though the Veloster N hatchback, alas, is no more. Meanwhile, the Ioniq 5 has turned out to be an excellent EV, re-writing the book on design, packaging, charging, and performance for mid-market electrics. Putting Ioniq and N together could be rather exciting. — NB
Ferrari’s Le Mans racer flashes more skin before 2023 debut
Intake: After showing a teaser image of the nose of its new LMH car last month (below), Ferrari has given us a better representation of what the car will look like when it joins the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2023. It’s nice having your own private test track, as Ferrari does with Fiorano, and that’s where the early tests of the car are currently taking place. Ferrari has long been a “race what we sell” competitor, racing its production cars in the GT classes, but the lure of the LMH Hypercar was too strong, and the manufacturer will try its hand in the top Prototype class after a 50-year absence. “We are proud of what we have achieved, and although the LMH’s masking during testing hides the car’s volumes and styling, I think it is undeniably recognizable as a Ferrari,” said Antonello Coletta, director of Ferrari’s sports car racing program.
Exhaust: Ferrari hasn’t announced a driver lineup, but it seems clear that they will tag their GT drivers, like Alessandro Pier Guidi, who reportedly shook down the Ferrari at Fiorano. Sadly, Ferrari has no present plans to enter the IMSA GTP ranks along with other manufacturers at Daytona in January, but you can bet the powers at IMSA are lobbying hard to get the Ferrari into that series. — Steven Cole Smith