Formula One fans eager for a slice of the action deep in the heart of Texas might want to seriously think about getting to the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin this coming October.
Entry prices have been reduced and organisers say that if it rains more than 5cm in the 24 hours before race day, they’ll refund the cost of your ticket.
The announcement comes after months of uncertainty for Circuit of the Americas officials still reeling from last year’s disastrous race weekend, when violent storms brought the entire event to a standstill.
Heavy wind and rain threatened track infrastructure, inundated the circuit and surrounding roads and forced fans from metal-framed grandstand structures after multiple lightening strikes caused officials to declare them unsafe. Herded into open areas — and the full force of the storm — race-goers were little better off away from the steel structures.
Fans were also advised to seek shelter in their own vehicles although, in a shocking display of anti-Americanism, many attendees had actually used well-priced and publicised public transport to get to the track, leaving some groups of desperate race fans with nowhere else for shelter but dismal Portaloos dotting the circuit. Ah, the glamour of F1.
Of course, The Good Oil assumes Bernie Ecclestone was perfectly safe and dry in an ermine and gold-trimmed corporate box somewhere nearby, where there was absolutely no chance of lightning striking him down with vengeful deity-like precision.
So this year, race organisers have promised to refund 105 per cent of any three-day reserved ticket price, or the price paid for a reserved-seat ticket for Sunday if it rains more than 5cm in the 24 hours preceding the F1 race on Sunday. Only tickets bought by July 5 will come with the no-flood guarantee.
New Zealand F1 fans would be advised to keep a watchful eye on the Kiwi dollar and the prices of direct flights to Houston, because if you don’t mind putting up with a bit of rain, attending this year’s United States Grand Prix could prove a cost-effective adventure.
In fact about the only troubling aspect is the organisers’ dark threat of a Taylor Swift concert on the Saturday night in an attempt to lure younger race fans. The Good Oil would rather take our chances with a twister.
The United States Grand Prix is the fourth-to-last round of the lengthy F1 season and will be held across October 21-23. Remember to pack a jacket.
The brakes are off
Just when we’d given up hope of one of the prettiest concept cars of the past few years ever making it into production, Callaway Cars has announced it intends to start building its Chevrolet Corvette AeroWagon shooting brake conversion this year.
Well yee and haa! The shooting brake concept, which removes the conventional hatch at the rear of the Stingray coupe or Z06 and replaces it with a slightly more squared-off wagon arrangement, was first revealed three years ago.
Callaway Cars said then that if enough interested customers came forward, they’d build it. Clearly it must have been a slow burner in the custom-car scene, because that’s pretty much the last we heard of it.
But some internal break-even limit has clearly been reached in the past couple of weeks, because Callaway says the first deliveries will be just in time to fulfil rich-guy Christmas present wish-lists this year.
The Connecticut-based tuner and customiser famous for distinctly unsubtle makeovers of already unsubtle Chevrolet cars and trucks, gives the customer a choice of the new boot arrangement in unpainted raw carbon fibre or colour-matched to the rest of the bodywork, with the decimal point on the bill moved accordingly.
Callaway also suggests the car’s drag coefficient is slightly worse with the wagon boot, but who cares? The thing looks brilliant and reminds us of the angular abutment styling of the awkwardly-named — but no less stunning — Ferrari GTC4Lusso.
PSA’s ambitious plan
Peugeot and Citroen’s parent company PSA Groupe has announced a goal to essentially take over the European automotive manufacturing world, with a six-year plan based around launching 34 new models. As an extension of the brands’ commercial divisions, eight LCV models and a one-tonne ute are also a part of the plan. The strongest rumour suggests the French ute could be based on the new Toyota Hilux.
Toyota’s strategy has seen them form a platform-sharing partnership with PSA and the arrangement is already working in reverse, with Toyota borrowing van chassis blueprints from PSA for a line of small domestic market vans.
The Nissan-Renault alliance will see both Renault and Mercedes-Benz launch Navara-based pick-ups, so Peugeot and Citroen making a play for the one-tonne ute market isn’t that unusual. Actually, the fact that Peugeot want a light commercial ute isn’t at all unusual because they’ve done it before, with the 1960s/70s-era 404 ute.
These days, that sequence is more commonly thought of as an internet error, but there was no mistaking the gutsy nature of the Peugeot 404 truck when it was new. In fact, there are still plenty on the dusty roads of North and West Africa today, where they were sold — with barely any updates to safety or comfort specification — until 1991.
3.85 MILLION US DOLLARS Price paid in 2014 for 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88
59 YEARS Time Chevrolet Corvette has been involved in racing
53 MPH Top speed of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in reverse
2 FACTORY OPTIONS On the first Corvette of 1953: a heater, and AM radio