The 2014 Chicago Auto Show: Because Racecar

Racecars are always party of any major auto exhibition and the 2014 Chicago Auto Show is no exception. The SCS team was fortunate enough to tour the show during Media Day and provide you with an inside look at what we believe to be the highlights. This post, the first in a forthcoming series focuses on racecars: why they’re taking up valuable booth space and their back-stories.

The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona Dodge Viper GTS-R

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Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with motorsports knows about Daytona. The 2.5 mile 40-foot wide superspeedway in sunny Florida is also home to a 3.56 mile road course. There are a plethora of important events that take place at Daytona annually: The NASCAR Daytona 500, Daytona Bike Week (for you motorcycle fans) and of course the granddaddy of American sportscar racing, then Rolex 24-Hours of Daytona in which drivers pilot their machines (generally 3 per car) for 24 hours straight. It’s one of the ultimate tests of driver tenacity, vehicle durability, team problem solving, and operating in a high-speed, no room for error environment on no sleep.

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For the 2014 24 Hours of Daytona, SRT Motorsports lead a factory backed effort fielding two cars that finished 12th and 27th respectively. Shown here is the #91 car, the front-runner of the SRT effort. Racing is a dirty sport, physically. Dirt, oil, dust, grime, etc coats every nook and cranny of a vehicle’s surface. Typically after a car returns from the track, the team spends several hours cleaning it before disassembly and moving forward with necessary vehicle maintenance. That leads us to what we regard is the coolest aspect of this display. It appears to have been put in the truck and sent to The Chicago Auto Show in the same condition in which it finished the race. Dirt, bumps, and bruises all intact. It alone is worth the price of admission, but there’s plenty more to see.

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Why is there a race car here to begin with? Two reasons: 1) you can actually buy them, but almost nobody will and 2) to sell the car below, the Viper SRT street car which has not been selling very well since its introduction. High prices and fierce competition from our next racecar / street car combo from the other side of the motor city,  or in this case McCormick place.

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The Corvette C7.R

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Competing in the same class at Daytona (GTLM) and on the IMSA Tudor United Sportscar circuit is the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. There’s no doubt Viper has a following, but they don’t hold a candle to the obsessed faction of Corvette owners and enthusiasts. With the display of the C7.R and Z06/Z07 performance variant street car it’s easy to see why. Our staff engineer Brendon pointed out that unlike the Viper, this C7.R was built for car shows; it has never, and likely will never see a racetrack if it even sees pavement. It’s like the hot blonde that sat across from you in high school history class: you spent hours drooling over her and when you eventually were lucky enough to take off her clothes you found out some of the “hardware” was bolt-on. Disappointing as it may have been, you still enjoyed staring at her the rest of the semester; because face it that’s all you could do with that restraining order in place. Too far? Probably, let’s move on.

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This picture had to be included, I love the Michelin Man…is that so wrong?

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Unlike with most other cars, the C7.R and 2015 Corvette Z06 were designed in tandem. The Corvette Racing program exists to showcase sportscar superiority and garner the attention of fans around the world who will hopefully turn into customers. Be it behind the wheel of a Corvette, Colorado, or Cruze, Chevrolet is working to capture market share and dare we say is doing a fantastic job of it…well except for the Cruze, that one is on our SCS rental car blacklist.

Once upon a time ago when they re-introduced Corvette Racing with the C5 the racing team had to adapt the street car. After years of C5.R and C6R success, however, the production and race teams now work hand in hand transferring knowledge from the racing program to the street program and improving both cars in the process. The new Corvette C7 is in many ways the best yet much due to the efforts of the racing program.

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The new 2015 C7 Z06 shown above is a product of that synergy. Design and engineering parallels can be drawn until the cows come home. The new Z06 should have 650 horses on tap thanks to the new supercharged LT4 engine. You can be sure that Chevy’s color choice here was no accident. As lovers of the C6 ZR1 we’re excited about this car. It has a new motor and more power than the ZR1 and an interior that absolutely blows it away amongst other accolades. The new Z06 is a bit heavy but is otherwise the real deal. Kick it up a notch to the Z07 and get more carbon fiber, better handling, carbon ceramic brakes, sticker tires, and more! We predict pricing to start around $85k and head north to +/- $115,000 but time will tell.

The Pirelli World Challenge GTS Champion Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro ZL1

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Located in the Illinois Camaro Club booth on the far side of the Toyota off-road test track you will find Blackdog’s mean-looking flat black Chevrolet Camaro. Fresh after a victory in its first season of Pirelli World Challenge competition, this LS3 powered behemoth is the real deal. A full roll cage, carbon fiber fenders, hood, and rear decklid and of course its new championship pedigree. It will be interesting to see if the Pirelli World Challenge series homologates the factory’s new Z/28 track car into the series for 2014 or if teams stick with the ZL1 bodied, SS powered efforts.

Mazda Skyactiv Prototype

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The Skyactiv prototype is powered by a diesel engine. That’s right, a diesel powered racecar. We’re big fans of diesel here at SCS, it keeps you in a non-hybrid car while providing incredible longevity and fuel efficiency as compared to gas. In a race application, however, Mazda’s gamble didn’t pay off. Every car in their diesel-powered Skyactiv fleet found its way back to the garage with the race still ongoing. Beaten? Yes, but kudos to Mazda for heading into uncharted territory. We’re hopeful that they return next year with an improved effort and that the diesel technology they’ve developed for the track will filter down to more consumer level offerings.

 

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