When Alexis DeJoria Racing invited us up to Englishtown to meet NHRA nitro funny car driver Alexis DeJoria and watch her compete in the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I had never attended an NHRA race before. But after my Baptism by Nitro, I was totally hooked!
They say your first nitro experience is unforgettable, and that’s a fact. The rumble of 10,000 horsepower side-by-side action and the smell of the nitro-burning cars launching down the drag strip at more than 300MPH are sensations that can only be experienced at an NHRA national event. Die-hard fans flock to the open pits and watch the buildup and teardown of every race car competing during the weekend. The exhilarating action and fan accessibility are just a few of the many reasons why NHRA drag racing has developed an incredible fan base, one of the most loyal in sports.
We came out to Englishtown NJ a few weeks ago to meet Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón nitro Funny Car. If her last name sounds familiar, that’s because she is the daughter of world-famous billionaire John Paul DeJoria, owner and co-founder Paul Mitchell hair care systems and The Patron Spirits Company. She’s also married to Monster Garage star Jesse James. Needless to say, she’s not your typical nitro driver.
Pilot of one of the world’s most powerful race cars, NHRA superstar Alexis DeJoria brings a different energy to the sport with her rock ‘n roll vibe. She was bitten by the racing bug early on and currently drives a 10,000 horsepower nitro Funny Car. These nitro-burning, fire-breathing machines accelerate from 0-100MPH in less than one second, and can cover 1,000 feet in less than four seconds and speeds in excess over 300MPH!
While DeJoria could have used her considerably resources to jump right into NHRA nitro cars from the word go, she instead worked her way up from the bottom, starting her NHRA career in 2005, first competing in the Super Gas category and then moving into a rear engine Super Comp dragster. From there, she moved in to a Top Alcohol Funny Car, and after achieving her goals in TAFC, she made the highly-anticipated leap to nitro Funny Car, where she’s been making headlines ever since.
As for her famous husband, he’s actually a full-on part of the team now, wrenching on the car with the rest of the crew. I wasn’t aware of his involvement beforehand, so when I saw him casually walk by, I was more than a little surprised. Fans on the other hand are well aware of James’ involvement with the team, crowding the Patrón XO Café trailer in hopes of catching a glimpse of him, with the occasional onlooker even asking for an autograph from him. But when the crew is racing against the clock to get the engine rebuilt before the next round, it’s all business with James.
The two seem to be a good match for each other given their mutual interests in motorcycles, cars (among her collection are a ’67 Chevy Chevelle SS, a chopped ’49 Merc, and a Murcielago), motocross, skydiving, and tattoos, just to name a few. And the fact that they get to spend so much time together (even displaying some brief public display of affection in between all the work) is just icing on the cake.
So what did I think of my first NHRA race? It was freaking intense! There’s no way to describe the sound (and feeling) of 10,000 horsepower as these cars roar by you at hundreds of miles an hour, it’s just something you have to experience for yourself. Just make sure you bring some ear protection and some sunscreen. You can thank me later.
There are plenty of races left in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, so be sure you come out to a race when they come through your area.
Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography and Cesar Andre Photography
2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo Blurs The Line Between Coupe And Wagon
BMW seems determined to change the definitions for automotive segments. All of their even-numbered X vehicles, for example, are “sport activity vehicles”–not quite crossovers and not quite coupes. The new BMW 640i Gran Turismo is along that same vein, being not quite a four-door coupe and not quite a station wagon. It’s something in between that.
The BMW 640i GT is, regardless of what segment it fits within, a beautiful car. For a week, we drove the Gran Turismo and were glad to see that it wasn’t the odd mashup the old 5 Series GT had been. This new GT is based on the 6 Series sedan, so it’s a bit larger and more powerful.
The 2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo is powered by the same 3.0-liter turbocharged six that is in the 640i Gran Coupe. That engine produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Power runs to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is standard. The GT needs that power, as it’s fairly bulky, weighing in at over 4,200 pounds at the curb. It’s size and weight are balanced by a long wheelbase of 121 inches, though, and the engine produces its power early in the RPM band, making for quick acceleration.
From zero to 60 mph, the BMW 640i GT sprints to speed in about five seconds. That’s a pretty fair shake in anyone’s book. Handling in the 2018 640i Gran Turismo is also good, thanks to that long wheelbase and bulk, which translate to predictable glides through turns and easy power delivery thanks to AWD. There are better, faster options for fast driving and cornering, of course, but given its size and versatility, the GT does very well for itself.
Where this new BMW really shines is in everyday driving. The 640i GT is really comfortable, confident, and easy to live with. It gives enough feedback on the road to remain engaging, but doesn’t insist on spirited driving at all times or that the driver and passengers feel every road bump and crevice. It’s smooth and well-balanced. Add on the Dynamic Handling package and it gets even better, with more road-hugging (still sans the jarring) and steering appeal.
There’s a single trim level for the 2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo, but it’s very well-equipped in its base $70,000 price point. It includes things like LED lighting, 19-inch wheels, keyless everything, rear air suspension for load-leveling and road absorption, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, and infotainment. That tech is on a big 10.2-inch touchscreen with two USB ports and a wireless charging pad. Not to mention a 12-speaker stereo system. Forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning are also standard.
In the upper crust, all-the-goodies model we drove, the price jumps to about $84,000, but adds the Dynamic Handling package, aluminum interior trim, power-adjustable rear seats, 360° parking sensors, automated park assist, seat massage, Harman Kardon/Bowers & Wilkins sound, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and more.
The 2018 BMW 640i GT has a great feel on the road, is exceptionally comfortable inside, and has a bit more style and versatility than a standard sedan. It’s fastback look is unique and really cool, compared to the standard sedan or a larger hatchback. Cargo space stands at about 45 cubic feet with the rear seats up and about 60 cubes with them folded down.
Seating in the back is great for adults, if there aren’t more than two. Three across is a bit of a squeeze and the center seat doesn’t have much legroom either. Kids will be fine in the back of the BMW 640i GT.
The 2018 640i Gran Turismo is a great vehicle that’s a big step up from the 5 Series-based GT it replaces. It’s nicer to look at, more enjoyable to drive, and uniquely cool in its own right. We’ll take it.
The 2019 Acura NSX Receives Mild Facelift, Better Chassis, And Orange Paint
It has only been a few years since the Acura NSX was finally released, but not content to sit on their laurels, the company has introduced a handful of updates for the 2019 model to make the high-performance supercar even better than before!
Visually, you’ll be able to distinguish a 2019 Acura NSX model from it’s new body-color front grille (in place of the silver one) and high-gloss treatments for the front grille surround, front air intake mesh and rear bumper outlet mesh. High-gloss treatment is also applied to the available carbon fiber decklid spoiler and carbon fiber exterior package – including a front chin spoiler, side sill garnish and rear diffuser.
But that’s not all. The 2019 NSX is also available in a striking new color called Thermal Orange Pearl (shown above). Buyers can further accent the NSX with optional carbon ceramic metallic brakes with orange calipers. Standard brakes can now be fitted with red calipers.
Inside, the 2019 NSX can be optioned with an Indigo blue Semi-aniline leather and Alcantara theme. Buyers can also add a red color option for the semi-aniline (non-Alcantara) power sport seats, in addition to ebony. Additionally, a number of features (navigation, premium audio, front and rear proximity sensors, etc) are now standard options.
What we’re most excited about though is the improvements to the car’s performance, which build on an already impressive platform and turn it up to 11. While the powertrain remains the same (573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque) engineers modified chassis components, tires and software tuning to make NSX even more responsive to the will of the driver, elevating performance driving in all circumstances, from daily driving to the circuit.
Chassis enhancements include larger front and rear stabilizer bars (increasing stiffness by 26 percent in front, 19 percent at the rear) and 21 percent stiffer rear toe link bushings. Rear hub rigidity has increased 6 percent. Software calibrations to the NSX’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD power unit, active magnetorheological dampers, electric power steering and VSA settings capitalize on this new hardware, as well as the grippier tire setup.
The 2019 NSX rides on new Continental SportContact 6 tires, developed exclusively for the NSX. The new tires feature a revised tread pattern, construction and rubber compound for improved handling performance in all conditions—including wet weather driving. The track-focused Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R remains an optional dealer-installed tire.
So how much will the new model set you back? The 2019 NSX starts at $157,500 (an increase of $1,500 over the 2018 model) with $4,700 in previously optional content now standard. So you’re actually saving money on the 2019 model.
The 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster Makes It’s World Debut At Pebble Beach
Now one year later, BMW returns to Pebble Beach to unveil the all-new 2019 BMW Z4 M40i First Edition, the latest chapter in the history of BMW Z Roadsters. And while it doesn’t look quite as dramatic as the concept, the production Z4 retains the athletic proportions and new emotional design language that takes the classic roadster concept into the world of tomorrow.
The open-top two-seater was designed with sporting intentions, with a central sitting position for the driver, a low center of gravity, and perfectly balanced 50:50 weight distribution.
Vertically stacked headlights, the BMW kidney grille sporting a mesh design, a long clamshell hood stretching over the front wheels, large air breathes on the front wheel arches and the distinctive spoiler integrated into the rear lid all contribute towards the characteristic look of the new BMW Z4.
The BMW Z4 M40i First Edition offers a number of unique accoutrements over a “regular” Z4, including a Frozen Orange Metallic paint job, a textile soft top in anthracite with silver effect, 19-inch alloy wheels in a two-tone design, and black mirror caps. The 2019 Z4 First Edition also includes a head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, two high-resolution digital displays, and a Harman Kardon surround sound system.
Powering the Z4 M40i First Edition Roadster is an updated version of BMW’s turbocharged 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder engine. While BMW hasn’t finalized output numbers just yet, we expect something around 380HP and 370lb-ft of torque, good for an (estimated) 0-60 time of under 4.4 seconds. A BMW M tuned sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, M Sport braking system and an electronically controlled M Sport rear differential should make for one fun and exciting ride in the twisties.
The BMW Z4 M40i will arrive in dealerships in the second quarter of 2019, and full details on the Z4 will be announced on September 18, 2018.
What do you think of the 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster?
Photo credit: BMW