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42 posts from June 2008

June 23, 2008

Life's a drive for Kelly Williams

Kelly_williams For race car driver Kelly Williams, “nothing can replace the exhilaration of driving a race car.”

Kelly first noticed cars when she was six-years-old and had a neighbor that worked on cars.  She drove her neighbor crazy, having him explain the ins-and-outs of race cars as she learned how to work on them.

"I grew up at the track," she says. "My parents have taken me since I was six."

Knowing that a career in motorsports for a woman is a rarity, Kelly attended York University and the University of Toronto. After graduating with a BA in history and geography, Williams decided to get her education degree. She hadn't given any thought to making racing a full-time career, though, thinking at the time that she wanted to be a teacher. "But," she says, "my heart simply wasn't in it."

In both 1989 and 1990, she won Most Improved Driver honors in the Challenger division at Flamboro Speedway. Williams switched from Flamboro to the faster Mosport International Speedway in 1992. In 1993, Williams make her breakthrough as one of Ontario’s top drivers. She was a winner no fewer than eight times, and finished fourth in the Goodyear Challenge Cup Series and seventh in the Mosport track championship. She was also voted Most Popular Driver in the Challenge Cup Series

Continue reading "Life's a drive for Kelly Williams" »

June 22, 2008

Volkswagen Debuts Zero-Emission Hydrogen Tiguan HyMotion

09tiguanhymotion46detail Volkswagen of America, Inc. has recently announced North American debut of the Tiguan HyMotion Fuel Cell Concept. Originally shown at the Shanghai Motor Show and the 2007 Michelin Challenge Bibendum, the Tiguan HyMotion highlights the current state of Volkswagen's hydrogen fuel cell research and development. The HyMotion is built on Volkswagen's Tiguan sport-utility vehicle, but utilizes a hydrogen fuel cell system, which promises over 107 horsepower and produces zero tailpipe emissions (clean water vapor is its only bi-product). The innovative new Tiguan builds upon Volkswagen's ongoing development of the fuel cell as previously demonstrated with the Touran HyMotion.

If you build it, they will come: I'm a huh-yooge fan of hydrogen-based fuel systems, and am happy to see another hydrogen fuel cell vehicle entering the alternative-fuel vehicle collection. I'm hoping that the presence of another hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will further encourage fuel providers to develop the fueling infrastructure required to allow these vehicles to make it into the mainstream.

Continue reading "Volkswagen Debuts Zero-Emission Hydrogen Tiguan HyMotion" »

June 21, 2008

Geico Educates Teen Drivers in Dallas

Logo_geicologo Geico is working to change the fate of teen drivers in Dallas, Texas. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), auto accidents are the #1 killer of teens age 16-19. Geico associates in Dallas want to change that by talking to teens through Geico’s national teen safe driving speakers bureau.

They plan to take their show on the road and meet with high school classes. Why? To give teens a realistic view of how they drive when they first hit the highway (which is not so great). Geico’s “Real Teen Driving” video is part of the presentation, showing how new drivers make mistakes when learning to drive. And their inexperience — failing to stop at signs, speeding, and too many distractions — is often what leads to deadly crashes.

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June 20, 2008

Women in Motorsports Blog Carnival - June 20

Danica With just ten fans in the stands at Richmond International Raceway, IRL star Danica Patrick took to the track in a rare test session. She ran just a handful of laps to prepare for the June 28th race, her crew spent most of the session making adjustments on her car.

Patrick was joined by Andretti Green Racing teammate Hideki Mutoh.

Mauricia Mauricia Grant has filed a $225 million lawsuit against the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) alleging sexual and racial discrimination.

"I loved it. It was a great, exciting, adrenaline-filled job where I worked with fast cars and the best drivers in the world," Grant told The Associated Press. "But there was an ongoing daily pattern (of harassment). It was the nature of the people I worked with, the people who ran it, it trickled down from the top.”

The 32-year-old Grant, who is black, worked as a technical inspector responsible for certifying cars in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series from January 2005 until her termination. In the lawsuit, she alleged she was referred to as "Nappy Headed Mo" and "Queen Sheba," by co-workers, was often told she worked on "colored people time," and was frightened by one official who routinely made references to the Ku Klux Klan.

NASCAR gave two of the officials named in the suit “administrative leave,” and instructed officials in at meeting at Michigan International Speedway not to speak about the suit.

Hillary The National Hot Rod Association appears to be positioning itself for a growth period similar to the one NASCAR enjoyed in recent years as that sport broadened its fan base from mostly automotive enthusiasts to mainstream America.

The NHRA itself has taken several key steps recently in the hiring of the giant sports-marketing firm IMG and adding the powerhouse ad agency Edelman to help steer its public-relations campaign. And a new track is set to open adjacent to Lowe's Motor Speedway, near Charlotte in the heart of NASCAR country.

But what's really pushing NHRA these days is diversity. In the past few weeks major race victories have been scored by three female drivers — Ashley Force, Melanie Troxel and Hillary Will — and an African-American male, Antron Brown. Two of those victories, Force's and Brown's, came in the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce. And to top it off, the sport's best-known driver, John Force, Ashley's dad, won two weeks ago for the first time since suffering career-threatening injuries last season.

Lauren Australian driver Lauren Gray will contest the opening round of the 2008 Australian Manufacturers Championship at the iconic Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit this weekend ahead of a season-long campaign in the revitalized ‘Manchamps’.

The Manchamps – formerly known as the Australian Production Car Championship – returns to the Australian Motorsport landscape this weekend after a long absence.
Gray said she is keen to return to the track for what will be her first major meeting since late last year.

”It’s been a long time since I’ve raced, so I’m really looking forward to being part of the return of the Manchamps this weekend,” she said.

”I’m really itching to get back in the car. We have tested before the round and it went very well so hopefully it will make my first real run for the year a good one.
"But it will be my first real race meeting for the year so It will be nice to get some laps and get back in the car and be part of the rebirth of a series like the Manchamps that has so much history. It's a name that is very recognizable within Motorsport."

Cassey Ginetta Junior driver Cassey Watson has always been recognizable in both SAXMAX and Ginetta Junior for her cars purple paintjobs and pink tiger graphics. However from now on she will be recognizable for flying the colors for award winning Sunderland based housing firm and community builder Gentoo. The market leading company, and Sunderland's biggest landlord, back the two cars owned by CBS Racing who have signed Cassey to run alongside team owner's son Alex Austin.

Cassey said, "I am honored to have been chosen by CBS Racing to drive their car this is an excellent opportunity for me, and I am already seeing the advantage of working with a teammate, we have worked well together both in testing and racing. I would like to give huge thanks to team owner Al Austin and to Gentoo for their support."

Jill Congratulations to Jill Canuso. The BIC Lighters "Queen of Diamonds" Canuso/Hanna Motorsports Jet Dragster WON 3 out of 3 match races at the PINKS ALL-Out event held at Summit Motorsports Park on June 7.

All 3 runs were recorded at 5.20 sec. - 299 MPH in the heat!!

Continue reading "Women in Motorsports Blog Carnival - June 20" »

June 19, 2008

Have you experienced the joy of live traffic updates?

Inrixlogo I'm not sure what it's like for drivers in other cities, but as a resident of Los Angeles, I know I can't go anywhere without checking before hitting the freeway. Unfortunately, the minute I turn off my computer, I'm out of touch with the constantly changing traffic landscape, and the radio traffic updates don't help much when stuck in a snarl and it's nine minutes away from the next update. In-dash navigation devices are great for plotting a route, but it's when you're connected to the very latest in technology that you are able to really experience the benefit of LIVE traffic updates.

It was behind the wheel of a Cadillac CTS provided to AskPatty for editorial evaluation that I first experienced XM LIVE traffic: I was on the 101 Freeway when a lovely woman's voice spoke to me to warn of an traffic jam at an upcoming street. The passengers in my car were astounded! A touch upon the nav screen revealed colored lines and alerts to demonstrate various speeds and levels of traffic delay. It was like having our own traffic angel in the car with us.

Well INRIX promises to take live traffic even further with a new product it calls "Total Traffic Fusion," the first traffic data service that intelligently combines real-time, predictive, and historical traffic information for over 800,000 miles of roadways across the United States.

Continue reading "Have you experienced the joy of live traffic updates?" »

Ask Patty's Female Friendly Blog Carnival: June 19, 2008

Welcome to the AskPatty Blog Carnival, where we provide a refreshing assortment of female friendly news and interesting automotive tidbits from around the blogosphere. Whether it's tips on how to save fuel, interviews with women in the automotive industry, or female-friendly vehicle reviews, we've got something here for everyone. Have you got something to share? Email Ask Patty at or use the form at the end to include your own blog bits in next week's carnival!

Usnewsworldreport Gas in my neighborhood is $4.75 per gallon, and we think we have it bad! According to U.S News and World Reports,  "Gasoline is cheap here. At least, it is compared to what our British counterparts are paying...About 380 filling stations have experienced supply problems or closed altogether" in the U.K.  Those that do remain open are charging as much as #1.99 per liter for petrol. Convert liters to gallons, pounds to dollars, and  the total comes to... Just under $15 per U.S. gallon. Yikes!

Camrythumb Why the Toyota Camry hasn't caught on with African-American women is something of a mystery to the blogger at  Apparently, the car company's ad agency rep believes "[Black women] think of it as suburban, not urban; as solid but boring." Ha, you go girl! Well, ladies, Toyota likes to think of all of its customers as "sisters." And it knows just how to get you elusive African-American females to buy more of their boring suburban cars--with a crazy online fashion espionage game! Coincidentally, there's a black woman in it. And a Camry! How's that for espionage?

Calgaryherald According to the Calgary Herald,  NBC Universal's new fall television show "My Own Worst Enemy" will feature two General Motors Corp. cars as part of the network's push to get advertisers involved earlier in program development to integrate their brands. The show stars Christian Slater as Henry Spivey, an efficiency expert and family man with a split personality named Edward, a trained-to-kill government operative. The GM cars will be integrated into the show, one for each of Spivey's personalities.

Vickyappleby According to Driving Calgary, customers like buying from women dealers. An article about Vicki Appleby,  one of few female general managers running a car dealership, says the automotive industry could use more women in sales, service. According to the article: Selling cars is in this woman's blood. The 43-year-old general manager of Calgary's Crowfoot Dodge grew up watching her father buy, sell and lease vehicles at a now-defunct used car business. Read the complete article at

Iwantbettergasmileage The blogger at   asks: "If high gas prices are really busting your budget - and you don't mind standing out from the crowd - consider buying a moped for your day-to-day trips.  Even if you don't use the moped as your primary vehicle, you can use it for a few trips a day and save a bundle on gas." Makes sense to me!

Designophylogo Designophy has a profile on Joann Jung, describing her as a "New Breed of Automotive Designer" Saying she is "Young, environmentally conscious and with a global vision, Joann Jung is part of a new breed of automotive designer." She started off providing design for the Ford Mustang, Escape and Fusion as well as designing the interior of the Lincoln MKT Concept unveiled this year at the North American International Auto Show. She now concentrates on the Lincoln brand. Read more about her at 

Tellingitlikeitis The blogger at says she continues to be amazed that in 2008, marketers and car dealership salesman remain clueless about how to sell a car to a woman, or at least how to sell cars to women like me. Her recent experiences in searching for a car have left her feeling rather frustrated, and her excellent blog outlines a few steps she strongly recommend salesmen and dealerships should follow. Sounds like she knows what it means to be "Female Friendly"!

Usnewsworldreport_2 According to U.S News and World Reports,  Toyota is introducing a plug-in hybrid with next-generation lithium-ion batteries in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2010."  Plug-in hybrids able to recharge their batteries off of a household outlet, "can run longer as an electric vehicle than regular hybrids," using less gasoline than even today's most efficient hybrid cars. The move is part of a larger green strategy Toyota is pursuing.

Lisacarlson Marketing 2 Women E-ssentials has a great interview with Lisa Carlson, global director of marketing for Shell Lubricants, in which she discusses the brand's marketing-to-women strategy and how their "Go Red for Women" partnership with the American Heart Association has created a cause-related program that has successfully brought customers and employees together for a common cause.

Nissan Considering a Nissan but not sure which model to go for? The blogger at  gives props to saying "it's wide open to everyone who has the same passion with cars. They can share thoughts, likes, dislikes, experiences, give tips and advice to each other. It is basically like a community where members can also post photos, blogs, comments, can add new friends, can send messages and even chat each other through the forum." Of course, you could do all that at AskPatty's as well.

2009fordflex05 I've known Rich Truesdell, editor of for nearly 15 years.  We both recently had an opportunity to drive the 2009 Ford Flex, and share our different opinions of the vehicle here.  (login required). I felt that the timing was unfortunate for such a large vehicle, especially at a time when all many Americans can think about is downsizing. But, after spending a long day on the road with it, he and I both agreed that the many great features of this vehicle will help people see past its size. What do you think?

Continue reading "Ask Patty's Female Friendly Blog Carnival: June 19, 2008" »

June 18, 2008

How Far Would You Go for Free Gas?

Emptypockets With gas prices continuing to rise, everyone’s looking for ways to save a little cash. People are selling their bigger vehicles for anything more fuel efficient. More city dwellers are taking advantage of public transportation when they can. And here’s an even more creative solution: selling advertising on your car in exchange for free gas.

Freegashelp is a site that matches advertisers to drivers. In exchange for a bit of space on your car, you get monthly gas cards. You can earn anywhere from $25 up to $200 per month depending on the type of ad.

There are some requirements, though. Your car has to be in good shape. And you have to drive at least 1,000 miles per month and you may be called upon to prove how much you drive.

Continue reading "How Far Would You Go for Free Gas?" »

June 17, 2008

Caution: Hands-Free Cell-Phone Laws Ahead!

Cautionhandsfreelawsahead On July 1, 2008, California and Washington will be the fourth and fifth states to enact a law that bans the use of any hand-held mobile device while driving your car. Other states prohibiting handheld mobile phone use are Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New York. When it goes into effect on July 1, 2008, the California law will also prohibit ALL cell-phone use -- including hands-free devices and texting -- by drivers under the age of 18. Meanwhile, the rest of California's drivers regardless of age must go hands-free when using their cell phones by the same deadline. Violators will face a possible $20 fine for a first offense, and $50 for subsequent offenses. Be thankful: in New Jersey, the fine for violating the state's hands-free law is $250 (and $100 for text messaging) - the most expensive hands-free fine in the nation.
The law does allow non-minor drivers to use a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, drivers of commercial vehicles to use push-to-talk phones until July 1, 2011, and drivers of emergency response vehicles to use a cell phone without a hands-free device.

Just for fun: Check out this new hidden camera video from  that captures five different driving instructors going ballistic on a kid who won't stop talking on his cell phone.

Continue reading "Caution: Hands-Free Cell-Phone Laws Ahead!" »

Car Care Vacation To-Do List

Ctf043w When the last beach towel was loaded, the family pulled out of the driveway and headed on vacation, 1500 miles roundtrip. That's when an unsettling moaning noise caught their attention. Dad furrowed his brow. Mom tilted her head, listening intently.

"Did the folks at the repair shop say anything about that noise?" asked Dad.
"When?" asked Mom.
"When you got the pre-vacation checkup on the car."
Mom's back became poker straight, her eyebrows bumped into her hairline.
"You said YOU were going to take the car in for that."

Chances are the moaning noise was a result of low transmission fluid. But without a professional technician to check it out, how could the travelers be certain that topping it off would fix it?

Tvl011w Even though Mom and Dad had a failure to communicate, their idea of a vehicle inspection was a good one, says the Car Care Council. A pre-trip review is the smart way to begin a vacation or road trip.

Continue reading "Car Care Vacation To-Do List " »

June 16, 2008

Catching up with Sarah Fisher

Sarah_2008_copy3 When Sarah Fisher became the youngest woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 at the age of 19 in 2000, it seemed like nothing could stop the Ohio native.

In combination with being just the third woman to compete in the Indy 500, she also became the first lady to stand on the podium at an IRL event; finishing third at Kentucky Speedway in 2001 and second at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In 2002, she made another mark in the auto racing annals, by becoming the first woman in North American motorsports history to win the pole position for a major-league open-wheel race. Things for Fisher in the IRL began to sour after that season.

Team and sponsor issues in 2003 and 2004 saw Fisher move to NASCAR in 2004.

Continue reading "Catching up with Sarah Fisher" »

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