As first gigs go, it wasn’t that bad. From his secret lair beneath a hollowed-out volcano, SSL’s notorious Jack Baruth asked me to head to Las Vegas for a weekend. As a lifelong oval-track fan, I was on the plane before he had a chance to change his mind and send me to a minivan “first drive” instead. The trip didn’t disappoint; I had a chance to watch Kevin Harvick hammer out his thirty-fifth career Nationwide Series win, I saw and met a variety of celebrities of the NASCAR and non-NASCAR variety (see above photo) and I also attended a presentation on the new Pennzoil Ultra “full synthetic” motor oil.
The definition of “full synthetic” in the US is complex enough to rate its own Wikipedia page (and here it is) but all the information we could find indicates that Ultra is, in some or possibly all blends, a “Group III” synthetic. This means that, strictly speaking, it’s not a head-to-head Mobil 1 competitor. Ferrari has chosen the oil for factory fill, as Porsche did with Mobil 1 some time ago. However, oil formulations differ across national borders, so this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Pennzoil Ultra sitting on your AutoZone’s shelf is exactly the same stuff that is being poured into the 458 Italia.
The most interesting thing about Ultra, from my perspective, isn’t the Ferrari endorsement or the admittedly handsome packaging. Rather, it’s the explicit claim that the use of Ultra can prevent sludge formation and significantly clean existing sludge from engines. They’ve backed this testing with numbers, one oil-forum wonk to state that
“They improved the deposit control and improved the detergent system while retaining the very good Seq IVA performance. Throw in API SN and a Tbn of 13, and I think it’s an impressive oil. At least on paper. Specifications met are a good indication of quality. This oil has quality written all over it.”
As soon as we figure out what that means, we’ll let you know.
Franck Montagny and Stephane Sarrazin gave Peugeot its first American Le Mans Series victory on Friday, winning a weather-shortened 12th annual Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6. Race officials, citing hazardous conditions due to torrential rains that fell at Road Atlanta just past the four-hour mark, called the race at eight hours, 44 minutes running.
Peugeot’s two diesel-powered factory prototype coupes finished 1-2 with the pole-sitting 908 HDi of Pedro Lamy and Nic Minassian in second. The first of Audi Sport Team Joest’s Audi R15 TDIs placed third, the car driven by Allan McNish and Dindo Capello. The Peugeot-Peugeot-Audi finish mirrored the end result at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, and it ended Audi’s nine-year unbeaten streak at Road Atlanta.
“We only did three races this year,” Montagny said. “We missed Sebring by only 22 seconds, and it was a win for the Peugeot team at Le Mans and a win here. I think if we had a full time we really would have battled it out with the Audis.”
Microsoft and Turn 10 released the demo for Forza Motorsport 3 via Live today. It includes only one track and just a handful of cars, but it should be enough to tease what looks like a fantastic third installment to an already strong franchise.
S:S:L ProTip: There are some interesting new features of the physics engine. Try to keep it shiny-side up.
Just because there can never be too much video of an Enzo running around a race track, here’s one more video from my weekend visit to MSR Houston. The Enzo was run quite a bit harder during this session than in the first video, as evidenced by the helmets bouncing around. Once again, turn it up and enjoy the ride!
A few months back, we ran a story about the famous Ferrari Enzo that was featured in the movie Redline, and later crashed by actor Eddie Griffin. Friend of S:S:L, Matt Groner, picked up the wrecked Ferrari and promptly proceeded to put the sacred Enzo back together. This weekend we headed down to MSR Houston to hang out with friend of S:S:L, Michael Mills, who asked us if we wanted to go for a spin. Uh, Fluck yes! Enjoy the video and turn up the volume!