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Story by Jack Baruth, photography by Matt Chow

Don’t look now, but Dubspeed Driven has become a pretty big deal in the past year or so. Thanks to you, our faithful and patient readers, we’re knocking the teeth out of some of the biggest names in auto-blog-o-lism. While our competitors spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on snazzy offices, first-class flights to Europe, “branding consultants”, and high-priced, low-talent hack writers, we’re getting it done with the proverbial two tables and a microphone… which is really more like four part-timers and a couple of Canon DSLRs, but you get the idea. There’s no money in this for us, no banner ads funneling cheddar into offshore accounts. You won’t find any ulterior motives at work here – we just want to have fun and share some neat cars with you along the way.

With so many “eyeballs” in the same electronic room, so to speak, it’s time to shove the walls out a bit and remodel to serve you better. In the next month, the site you know as Dubspeed Driven will formally re-brand as Speed:Sport:Life, with a new, more readable format and a double-barrel blast of new content. I’d like to tell you that we’re getting a ground-up redesign along the lines of our big-dollar “e-magazine” competition, but let’s face it: if we had that kind of money, we’d spend it filling a Daytona Prototype with strippers, not building a photo studio and filling it with trolls. Sorry about that. We will, however, be making a solid effort to make it easier for you to read and enjoy the articles. Fonts, whitespace, formatting – we’re working on all of that. We might consult an expert in website redesign if it comes to it, but for the moment we have an idea of what you would want and how to achieve it.

Oh yeah, we also have a new test driver. He’s an evil cyborg made from German scrap metal, artificial eyeballs grown in a dry-ice-flooded laboratory, and a stolen pig heart.

Introducing… Mr. Roboto

There’s a very real problem in automotive journalism nowadays: as the cars keep getting faster, the reviewers aren’t keeping up. It’s no great trick to extract some tail-out heroics from, say, an ’84 Datsun 200SX; I can remember doing just that as a teenager, although to be perfectly honest, it all ended in tears. Faced with a four-hundred-plus-horsepower modern sporting car, though, most of the motoring hacks out there are way behind their comfort zone, and the reporting suffers as a result. Nothing infuriates me like reading reports of a car’s behavior at the so-called “edge” when I know that the driver isn’t anywhere close to the limit. It’s worthless, it’s unreadable, and it’s borderline fraudulent… so we ain’t gonna do it.

To provide our readers with genuine information about the performance capabilities of today’s cars, we’re taking serious steps. The first step was the purchase of a complete Traqmate data acquisition system. Not all the manufacturers are happy about it – the looks we got when we strapped the control unit onto the dashboard of a certain new American sedan were priceless – but we’re going to use it wherever we can. We won’t always bore you with the raw data, but we want you to know that we’re getting the numbers.

The next step was slightly more complicated. We heard vague rumors of an English TV show which uses an anonymous racing driver to get their test data – they call him “A Slug” or something like that. This sounds like a good idea, but wouldn’t it be better if we used an actual cyborg to get test data? Sure it would, although I’m not sure why. A quick call to the Tyrell Corporation in sunny Los Angeles provided the answer. Introducing our own anonymous “Mr. Roboto”, the perfect replicant for twenty-first-century track testing. Does he have artificial eyes and stainless-steel ribs? Maybe not, but we do guarantee that there’s a fair amount of metal floating around in this particular test driver’s body. More importantly, he’s completely without fear and/or common sense, willing to hold the throttle to the floor longer than any other magazine reviewer out there, and he’s fully insured for replacement value. Some people say that he used to be a military targeting robot, but this is precisely the kind of nearly baseless rumor that other blogs spread in order to deny us access to press cars. He’s a cyborg of peace… until it’s time to get on the track, and then he’s a cyborg who loves the sweet scent of tire smoke and blazing brakes.

We’re celebrating the launch of Speed:Sport:Life with a very special test: the Saturday Supercar Showdown. Thanks to our friends at the MSR Houston road course, we had a chance to compare two of the most dynamic and interesting sports cars on sale today – the stunning Audi R8 and the fearsome, six-hundred-horsepower 2008 Viper SRT-10 – using the Traqmate system. It would be cheating to tell you which one “won”, but trust me: they’re both fast enough to thrill even the most jaded of auto enthusiasts. Mr. Roboto fairly bounded out of his storage box at the chance to run both of these supercars at the real limit of traction and handling, and the results were impressive. The full story, including some stunning footage from an externally-mounted ChaseCam, is coming next week, but here’s a little taste of Mr. Roboto’s work:

Mr. Roboto activates the ABS and trail-brakes the R8 into Turn One:

During unpacking, we accidentally turned the “Aggression” control on Mr. Roboto’s chest-mounted command center to “Full Tilt”. Here he attempts a highly iffy pass on a 997 GT3 and an F430 Challenge racer! After this incident, we removed his batteries and held the “Reset” button for five seconds.

At the conclusion of this test, Mr. Roboto broke through his restraint harness, attacked his handlers, and ran off into the Texas sunset; he was last seen exiting the track backwards at approximately one hundred and fifteen miles per hour down the front straight of of Virginia International Raceway. We’re pretty sure he’ll return when needed, though; he left his long-distance optical lenses behind, making it impossible for him to properly spy on the “Realdoll” production line. In the meantime, we’ll do the rest of the job and bring you a thorough explanation of why it’s possible to obtain fairly similar racetrack results with such dramatically different sports cars, complete with Matt Chow’s fiery photography and the always-insightful commentary of our senior editor, Zerin Dube.

Is Mr. Roboto for real? Well, let’s put it this way; he’s considerably more real than the faked-up driving resumes put forward by some of our competitors out there, and he’s twice as fun at parties. More importantly, we’re committed to bringing you real data and driving impressions from the best drivers and writers we can find, and all without a single banner ad to spoil the fun. Thanks for reading, and I believe I speak for the rest of the staff at Speed:Sport:Life when I say that we can’t wait for you to return!

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Jack Baruth

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