Racers and Rental Cars

7 02 2012

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Superbike Planet is one of the very few websites that I read on an everyday basis.  It is a motorcycle roadracing focused website, and I really admire several things about their style, attitude and philosophy on reporting. 

They aren’t afraid to pepper their articles with a little bit of opinion, which in the straight-forward, general journalism sense would usually be a no-no.  Partly because I generally share their views on many racing matters (such as the disasterous takeover of AMA Pro Roadracing series by the DMG), and partly because the stakes are frankly lower in reporting on racing news, I think it’s OK that they spice things up a bit.

The other thing I really love about the site, and Dean Adams, its editor in chief as far as I know, is the massive historical perspective they bring to the table. For people like me who haven’t grown up with racing in the family, even in a spectator sense, the stories and anecdotes are very informative and entertaining.

Here is a great example of what I’m talking about. Evidently there is some truth to the myth that racers are tough on things like rental cars. In this story, they talk about how one AMA superbike team went to a racetrack in Texas for an off-season test of the equipment.

Arriving at the track, they found that “a thick layer of Texas dust” had settled on the track surface after months of disuse, making it dangerous to ride the motorcycles because the dust reduces the traction that the motorcycles’ tires are able to get.

Usually when this happens, there are specialized blower trucks that they drive around the track, that help blow debris (and sometimes water) off the track. Evidently they didn’t have those trucks at the facility that day, so they began driving their rental cars on-track, to help remove the dust.

Being racers as they were, things soon got competitive and then spiraled out of control from there. As Soup puts it:

“The automobiles, which were newer sports cars and luxury vehicles (other than the mini-van) when they were rented (with the full and optional insurance, mind you) simply and quickly began to disintegrate. Designed to haul Joe America from his house to his job each day on a sedate expressway,the machines were way out of their element traveling at 130mph, with severe G forces pushing against them.

In this test [that] one the editors from Consumer Reports could only dream about, parts failure skyrocketed. One nearly brand new machine became a creaking, frame bent, tires rubbing against the fenders, seat belts sacked out from trying to hold the driver (and his passenger) in the seat against the G forces, doors won’t open, now the dash is loose too, machine, ready for the scrap yard, in less than thirty minutes, without ever touching the wall or another automobile.”

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