BACK SEAT DRIVING— Can it really be four decades ago that this water-pumped newbie was first rolled off the Wolfsburg production line in 1974? Initially, it was quite a struggle for the numerous contracted designers to break free of the iconic curved and rounded Beetle form. Ultimately, Giorgetto Giugiaro managed it. A cool, boxy, geometrical hatchback emerged, with a front-wheel drive and a transversely mounted water-cooled engine tucked tidily under the bonnet. After 40 years, the car remains as energetic and youthful as ever.
BACK SEAT DRIVING— Danica Patrick’s Cup career now stretches past 50 races with one top ten to show for itself. Sam Hornish, by contrast, has competed in 99 Nationwide races with 53 top tens, 28 top fives, and two wins. He has nine top-ten Cup finishes, three top fives, and no wins in 131 races. So you tell me whose numbers look better. That’s why it’s tantalizing to compare them when they turn up in the same race, especially when they get there through such different paths—both the success (Hornish) versus little success, and the preparation and resources (Patrick) versus last-minute deal routes.
BACK SEAT DRIVING—Another racing tragedy. Fortunately no one was killed or injured, but it is a tragedy nonetheless. Another racing trailer has been stolen and, this time, a true one-of-a-kind race car is most likely gone forever. Forget the damn trailer. The little car that was in the trailer was the true treasure. This particular one, a wonderful example of Formula 500 racing ingenuity from the late 50s that had been carefully preserved and was at a well-known shop (in said trailer) awaiting restoration. I’m pretty sure that we’ve lost the little machine forever.
BACK SEAT DRIVING— There’s a lot at stake this weekend in Fontana. For Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, there’s the chance to pocket an extra quarter-millions bucks if they can win. That’s because each driver has won one of the series’ Triple Crown Long Distance races. Those are the Indy 500, taken by Kanaan, and the Pocono Indy 400, taken by Dixon. The race at Auto Club Speedway, properly called the MAVTV 500, is the third in the trio of long distance races. Brian Kennedy reports.
BACK SEAT DRIVING—If you think Nissan marches to the beat of a different drummer, you’ve got good reason. But the company’s journey off the beaten path goes way back to its founder, Yoshisuke Aikawa, who took on the establishment in order to do—what he felt was—the right thing. For Nissan, it’s a challenge that the company has often had to face throughout its 80 years.