Earlier this month, the folks at Shell and Pennzoil brought us to Phoenix for an adrenaline-fueled weekend at the world-famous Bondurant Racing School, and it was pretty freaking awesome!
For those of you wondering why we came out to the Bondurant School, it’s because all the vehicles here use Pennzoil lubricants and Shell V-Power NiTRO+ gasoline, which provide superior performance, less wear and the best protection.. even in the Arizona desert, where temps regularly climbs into the triple-digits.
Our weekend “crash course” at Bondurant allowed us to get a taste of what students get to experience in the 3 and 4-day classes, getting behind the wheel of both the Challenger 392 Hemi and Challenger Hellcat as we took part in the autocross, accident simulator, skid car, lead and follow, hot laps with professional drivers, along with a ProKart go-karting session that got pretty competitive.
The autocross proved to be rather challenging, as the Challenger is a little tail happy, especially if you give it too much gas before you’ve straightened the wheel. The skid car was a ton of fun, with hydraulic lifts raising the rear end of the car to simulate oversteer. I’m no stranger to snow, so I was an old pro at that. And the lead and follow was an absolute blast, with me hitting triple-digits more than a few times!
As you can imagine, I had a huge grin on my face the entire weekend, along with a newfound respect for the Challenger, which handles remarkably well considering how much weight they’re carrying. While the decision to go with a heavy, powerful muscle car that’s prone to snap oversteer may seem like an odd choice to some, as Pat Bondurant kept saying, “if you can drive these Challengers, you can drive anything!”, as these cars do not hide your mistakes like other cars may.
The Bondurant mechanics were equally impressed with how reliable the Dodge Challengers were, thanks in part to the Pennzoil lubricants and Shell V-Power NiTRO+ gasoline that powers these vehicles. While many of their older vehicles would require full tear-downs between classes to get them back up and running in tip-top condition, the Challengers require nothing more than new tires and brakes.
Having seen firsthand how much abuse these cars take on a daily basis, I can’t tell you how impressive that is. If Pennzoil and Shell V-Power NiTRO+ can help keep the Bondurant School’s cars running like new, don’t you think it’s worth it to make the switch in your vehicle as well?
To further illustrate the benefits of Shell V-Power NiTRO+ premium gasoline, Shell Fuels Scientist Vivek Raj Mohan rolled out their Shell Dual Fuel Vehicle, a Dodge Charger with an engine that has been modified so that the left 3 cylinders receive exactly the same amount of fuel as the right 3 cylinders. The one bank gets Shell V-Power NiTRO+ premium, the other a competitor premium.
Using a scope, we were able to take a look through the engine and see how effective Shell’s gas is compared to the competition. The difference was night and day, with the Shell side looking good as new, while the other side had noticeable gunk and carbon deposits left behind.
Overall, I had an amazing weekend at the Bondurant Racing School (as you can see from that smile above), and I can’t thank Shell and Pennzoil for the invite. I’ve definitely got the bug now, and I’m already planning to come back next year to do the full four-day school. 🙂
Disclosure: Thanks to Shell for providing the accommodations for this trip.
How To Know When It’s Time To Get A New Family Car
Whether you have a sensible sedan, a standard minivan, or a versatile SUV, you place a lot of trust in your family car. However, no matter how reliable your vehicle is, you’ll have to replace it with a new model eventually. How do know when it’s the right time to upgrade? Here are some of the top signs it’s a good time to buy a new family car.
1. You’re Paying Expensive Repair Costs
No matter how well you look after your vehicle, time, wear and tear, and age eventually take their toll. When you find yourself having to make minor repairs often or taking your car into the shop several times a year for substantial and expensive fixes, it may be time to consider moving on.
Keeping a car past its prime can cost a lot of money in terms of repair costs. Older cars are generally less efficient as well, so you could be overspending on gas. Mileage is another important factor to consider. Some makes and models can be reliable past 200,000 miles, whereas others become unstable before this milestone. Do some research on your car to determine how likely it is that you’ll run into constant problems if you continue driving it.
2. Your Family Is Growing
Your compact car may have worked fine when you had your first child, but squeezing multiple car seats in the back can be a challenge. If your family is growing in number, or simply growing up, chances are you have more car seats, luggage, backpacks, and sports gear you need to fit in your vehicle. If you’re constantly trying to maneuver things around to make riding in your car comfortable, it may be time to consider an upgrade.
If you choose to upgrade your family car, you can look forward to several benefits beyond just having more space. Newer cars generally have more features, and models designed for families (such as minivans) may have numerous helpful additions. You may find that having a new car with more cupholders, configurable seats, automatic doors, and entertainment systems makes your time driving with the family exponentially more comfortable.
3. You’re Moving to a Different Location
If you are moving to a place with a drastically different climate, it could be wise to buy a new family car. For example, if you’re moving to a sunny coastal climate, you may want to trade in your four-wheel-drive for something smaller and more efficient. Alternately, if you’re moving to a mountain state, it’s probably a good idea to consider switching your convertible out for a reliable and maneuverable SUV.
4. You’re Financially Ready
One of the most challenging parts of upgrading your family car is the financial burden. Whether you buy new or used, chances are taking home a new vehicle will require paying a hefty chunk of cash or signing a big loan. Either way, your personal financial status plays a large part in deciding when it’s time to buy a new car.
However, you can look at it the other way as well. If you are in a good financial spot with excellent credit and a comfortable safety net in the bank, you may want to think about investing in a new car. Buying at a time when you can afford a large down payment and qualify for a favorable loan can make more financial sense than waiting until repairs force you to buy a new car quickly. If you wait, you may not be in such sound financial waters as you are now.
Being able to afford a new car or qualify for a good loan also gives you the flexibility to choose the best option for your family. Maybe you want to move to an electric car to save money on gas and help the environment. Perhaps you want to get an SUV to make it easier and safer to spend weekends camping in the mountains. When you have the time and resources to do all the research and choose the best model for your family, it can take a lot of stress out of the whole process.
Deciding when to upgrade your family car can require a lot of thought. However, there are some standard signs that can indicate it’s time to start considering a new vehicle. Mounting repair costs can make it financially more affordable to get a new car. You may also want to consider upgrading when you’re in a good financial spot with the assets to either pay cash or secure a favorable loan.
The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe Will Set You Back $111,900
Last month, BMW unveiled the long-awaited 8 Series Coupe to the delight of enthusiasts from around the world, who have been waiting nearly two decades for the Bavarian car company to bring back the iconic luxury sports coupe.
BMW gave us a full run-down on the the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe, which is powered by a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that puts out 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, launching the car from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph.
The BMW M850i is equipped with xDrive rear-biased intelligent all-wheel drive, mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission that has been updated with wider ratios and sportier gear shifts. Standard performance features include M Sport brakes and Adaptive M suspension with Active-Roll Stabilization.
Standard equipment on the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe includes Full LED headlights with BMW LaserLight technology, BMW Individual Merino leather seats, BMW Live Cockpit Professional, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and more.
That all sounds great, but how much will it cost?
The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe starts will start at $111,900 plus a $995 Destination and Handling fee, with cars arriving in dealerships nationwide on December 8th.
Naturally, BMW has a plethora of options to push that sticker price much higher, including an optional Driving Assistant Professional, a 1,400 watt Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound system, a carbon fiber exterior trim package, just to name a few.
The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Is The Demon’s Spawn
As you’ve probably heard, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has already reached the end of its limited-production run, with 3,300 of them produced in less than a year.
Missed out on your chance to purchase one? Well today is your lucky day, because Dodge/SRT just unveiled the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye today, a slightly less powerful Demon spawn, with “only” 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque, with an eight-speed automatic transmission as the only option.
The Hellcat Redeye will rocket from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds, run the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds at 131 mph, with a top speed of 203 mph, earning it the bragging rights as the “most powerful production V8” and “quickest production muscle car” currently in production.
Needless to say, the Mustang Shelby GT500 is going to struggle keeping up with this bad boy. Same with the Corvette ZR1, which comes up short with 755 horsepower.
Like its Demon brethren, the Hellcat Redeye has 25 major component upgrades, including a larger supercharger, strengthened connecting rods and pistons, high-speed valve train, fuel injection system and improved lubrication system.
It also has the Torque Reserve system that delivers up to 3.9 psi of boost at launch and up to 55% more engine torque, along with the SRT Power Chiller and After-Run Chiller (which use the air conditioning system to cool the intercooler and reduce engine temps).
And new for 2019, the Redeye offers two final drive ratios, a standard 2.62:1 or an available 3.09:1 for enhanced launch capabilities. Helping put all that power to the ground is a high-strength steel prop shafts and 41-spline half shafts, both of which increase torque capacity.
Furthermore, the SRT Hellcat Redeye is available with the Demon’s Widebody package, which allows for some meatier tires (275mm on the standard body cars, 305mm on the widebody cars). That extra rubber helps shave off 0.3 seconds in the 1/4 mile (10.8s vs 11.1s), so to us it seems like a no-brainer. It also looks pretty bad-ass.
No word on pricing just yet, but expect it to fall somewhere between the Hellcat and Demon. And if that ends up being too rich for your blood, you can always go with a “normal” Hellcat, which gets a modest power bump to 717 horsepower and 656 lb-ft of torque.
The 2019 Challenger lineup will roar into dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2018, so you’d better start saving your money now.