Tag - MSR Houston

Speed:Sport:Life Track Review: Ferrari Enzo


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Story by Jack Baruth, photos by Sydney Davis Photography/MSR Houston

Three hundred thousand dollars’ worth of damage. Imagine owning a car so valuable, so difficult to fix, so chock-full of unobtanium parts that it’s possible to cause three hundred G’s worth of damage simply by running it at low speed into a Jersey barrier. Hard to believe – and yet that’s exactly what happened to movie producer Daniel Sadek when comedian Eddie Griffin borrowed his Ferrari Enzo and understeered straight into the concrete during a promotional event.

With Enzo values hovering in the million-and-a-half-dollar range, a $300K hit wasn’t enough to total the car, but it was enough to raise doubts as to whether the car could ever be repaired well enough to satisfy a potential buyer. What happened next has quickly become an Internet legend: Exotic-car dealer Matt Groner bought Sadek’s Enzo, purchased over $91,000 of authentic Ferrari parts, and invested an undisclosed but presumably massive amount of labor to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It’s now up for sale on Ebay with a starting bid of $1,200,000. The winner of the auction is unlikely to be disappointed; Groner was painstaking in his efforts, modestly allowing that the paintjob just might be better than Ferrari’s notoriously sloppy original work.

Still, consider the fact that this is one of fewer than four hundred Enzos in the world. It’s a car that can be six-figure damaged by having an autocross accident. A crunch that wouldn’t cost ten grand to fix on a Mustang. A “crash” that, at the very worst, probably happened at thirty miles per hour.

Did you hear that?

That’s the sound of Michael Mills blowing by at one fifty.

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Speed:Sport:Life Imaginary Internet Millionaire Track Test: Ferrari F430 v Lotus Elise v Dodge Caliber SRT-4 v Ford Mustang GT500


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Story by Jack Baruth – In-car video by Jack Baruth and Carl Modesette – Photography by Zerin Dube and Matt Chow

Admit it: you’ve told the Internet a fib or two in the past few years. It’s okay, really; there’s nobody around but you and me. The past decade has seen the ol’ triple-W take center stage in the automotive enthusiast community, and whether you’re a fan of a all-purpose auto site like the one run by our friends at Jalopnik, a perennial bargain-hunter logging hundreds of hours on the Edmunds car-purchase forums, or even one of those miserable mouth-breathers over at Rennlist trying like hell to turn a perfectly decent and lovely ’85 Porsche 944 into a dub-wheeled, nitrous-fed, maintenance-deferred scrapheap, chances are that you’re spending a nontrivial amount of time out there on the IntarWeb’s car spots. Chances are, too, that at some point you’ve maybe stretched the truth a bit when arguing a point with some clueless noob who desperately deserves a hammer to the forehead, right? Maybe you’ve temporarily forgotten that “your” Porsche 997 GT3 actually belongs to your wife’s uncle, or perhaps you’ve retold a rather boring HPDE 1 session somewhere as a daring battle at the very limits of adhesion, slip angle, and late braking. Don’t sweat it. We’ve all done it. Even your humble author once told a USENET group many years ago that he found the E46 M3 “really, really boring.” Well, I did find it boring, primarily because my test drive was limited to a thirty-five-mile-per-hour tour of the dealership’s parking lot. It’s just that I may have let that rather relevant fact slip my mind in my eagerness to prove a point to whatever sorry doofus I was totally e-dominating at the time. When I finally got around to driving the car harder, I actually rather liked it, but do you really think that I was going to go back and admit it? Oh, hell no. I had my imaginary electronic reputation to protect!

Those imaginary electronic reputations, or IERs for short, can lead people to tell some pretty crazy lies, with one of the most common being the “Sure, I Drive A ’93 Corolla, But I Could Totally Pay Cash For Any Car I Wanted” story. Totally believable, right? The next time you’re on the road and you see some hapless sucker clutching the shaking steering wheel of some tired old Stanza XE, why not at least briefly consider the possibility that he’s an Internet millionaire, just like all the guys over at FerrariChat, and that he just drives that crapwagon because he’s heavily invested in short-term complex financial derivatives? He’s just waiting for the right moment to stroke that check for a brand-new Gallardo Superleggera, and then he’ll be the one laughing at you! On the World Wide Web, we’re all rich, we all pay cash, and we can all drive anything we want.

Imagine, for a moment, that the above scenario was really true, and not just the fevered imagination of a bitter loser who still iives with his parents. Imagine that you really could buy anything you wanted, and that because of your awesome cash-holding and mega-investing powers, you weren’t totally convinced that you needed to spend all the money you had available to you. In other words, imagine that you’re completely unlike everybody in the real world. What would you buy? Would you do the obvious Internet zillionaire thing and buy a Ferrari? Maybe you’re a so-called purist and you’d prefer the simplicity of a Lotus Elise. It could be that you want to strut down the boulevard in the baddest Mustang to ever escape the factory – or you might be more interested in an affordable yet high-power commuter like the weapons-grade Dodge Caliber SRT-4. Who knows? You’re rich and crazy! It’s a ridiculous scenario – one completely unrelated to the real world – but here at S:S:L, we’re not big fans of the real world, so we’ve created a track test just for you, Mr. Imaginary Internet Baller. We’ve got a Ferrari F430 Spyder, a Lotus Elise, a Shelby GT500, and a Caliber SRT-4. We’re going to run ‘em head to head around MSR Houston’s road course, gather full data from our Traqmate timing system, and show you on-track video complete with a Best Motoring-style view of the driver’s pedal box. Last but not least, because this is Speed:Sport:Life and not some timid advertising-supported blog, we’re going to declare a clear winner. You may find it harder to believe that a nineteen-year-old’s claim to be street-racing his own brand-new Murcielago, but there really is one car that stands out from the pack here, and I can’t wait to tell you about it.

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Supercar Saturday Part Two: Taking it to, um, the streets.


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Story by Jack Baruth, photography by Matt Chow and Zerin Dube

Are you a shy person? Do you suffer from social anxiety? Are you uncomfortable with being the center of attention in public settings? If the answer to any of the above questions is “Yes”, then we respectfully suggest you avoid the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT-10 convertible, particularly in the eye-searing shade of blue applied to our test car. As a Viper owner, you will be permanently on the American road’s center stage, targeted by dropped jaws, pointed fingers, and comments ranging from the predictable “NIIIICE CARRRRR!” to the rather confusing statement delivered to us at a gas station by a fading flower of a middle-aged Texas woman in a Town Car -“We’re so proud of you.” Who was “we”, and of whom, exactly, were “they” proud, and why? Perhaps she’d spotted the manufacturer tag on the car and thought we were affiliated with the intrepid (no pun intended) folks at Chrysler’s SRT division, or she simply wanted to let us know how happy she was that we’d chosen an American sports car over the evil foreign competition, or she thought your humble author was a famous bearded celebrity – one of the Geico cavemen, perhaps, or even Michael McDonald, touring the country in a six-hundred-horsepower droptop while contemplating which Motown originals would be easiest to mangle into blandness for his next album. We’ll never know. Apparently, mere possession of America’s most cylinder-intense sporting car turns one into a public figure, with all the attendant positives and negatives. Learn from our experience and consider yourself warned. Driving a Viper is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for the wallflowers among us.

If, however, you are a painfully modest or fearful individual who nonetheless feels compelled to own an SRT-10, there is one potential solution, assuming you have the bucks: buy an Audi R8 and hire somebody to drive it around behind you. In the Audi’s incandescent presence, the big blue Viper becomes well-nigh invisible, just another minnow in the school of freeway fish which clump and cluster in the R8’s wake, camera phones aloft and trembling at The Presence Of The Future Among Us.

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Supercar Saturday Part One: Running the R8 and Viper against the clock at MSR Houston.


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Story by Jack Baruth, photography by Matt Chow and Zerin Dube

It’s the space of an eyeblink. Three-tenths of a second. At one hundred and forty-six miles per hour, as the bright blue Viper SRT-10 convertible hammers into MSR Houston’s Turn Six, I am covering sixty-four feet in every twitch of the eyelid. In that space of time, as I apply the first touch of braking with my left foot while simultaneously easing off with the right, – in that sixty-four feet – the Viper strikes in a sudden scream of tire, the world slews sideways through the windshield, and I know, beyond doubt, that I have just made a very serious mistake.
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