Rear View Mirror 03/19/12

John Schommer
Thursday, March 29, 2012
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Welcome to Rear View Mirror, a weekly column looking back at the week in racing, both in the real world and in Forza. This week, I’ll be covering the latest happenings in the Community Monthly channel in Forza 4’s Rivals Mode as well as the action in Formula One, the American Le Mans Series, and other cool car stuff. Each week I will also feature a story about one of the 63 cars I have owned.  Yes, like most of you, I am a car freak; I may just be a bit more fickle. 

 

2012 Formula 1 Quantas Australian Grand Prix 

What an exciting and surprising start to the F1 season.  Not that cars that typically rev around 18,000 rpm, utilize hybrid technology to boost performance, and strategic complexities like DRS could be boring under any conditions.

 

Jenson Button blasted out of the start and built as high as a 13- second lead during the race.  Red Bull star and last year’s world champion Sebastian Vettel battled to keep up most of the race. A highly anticipated performance by Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher had him with the leaders for the first 10 laps of the race.

 

Throughout the race there were collisions and errors resulting in retirement. In turn one, lap one, several cars collided resulting in one car spinning in the middle of traffic. Ten laps later, Michael Schumacher blew the same turn, ran into the grass, and damaged his gearbox, ending his efforts.

 

All in all, a very exciting 90 minutes of racing on a city course.  Next week it will be Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Do you think Jenson Button will continue to dominate?  Will Michael Schumacher make a comeback? The weather is looking like thunderstorms at this point but, then, rain is always a possibility in Malaysia. Who do you tip for the race if the weather goes south? Discuss it in our Rear View Mirror Forum.

 

Here is the Formula 1 Grand Prix full race schedule.

 

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St. Patricks Day parade in Seattle, photo taken by Christopher Smith

 

Formula 1 Race Status App 

If you can’t watch the Formula 1 race, or if you want access to more data, there’s an app for that. The F1 2012 Timing App by Soft Pauer visually represents all the cars in a 3D track map, provides track times for all drivers and can even tell you what kind of tire and compound their car is running.  

This is the official app of the FIA Formula One World Championships.  It is more than just a stat tracker.  The app provides access to all the race weekend substance and can access a vast database on the whole race season.  Racing action is delivered to your handheld device in just two seconds so you are never that far from what just happened. Race schedule information and race news feeds keep F1 fans informed with all the latest happenings as well.

 

12 hours of Sebring 

The nostalgia and thrills of the 60th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring lead to a dominating win by Audi and the new R18 closed-cockpit diesels. Audi took first and second in the #2 and #3 cars and managed 16th with the #1 car despite gearbox problems. They also won the Michelin Green X Challenge top three for being clean, fast, and efficient.

 

In GT class, the battle between Corvette, BMW, Ferrari, and Porsche ensued with Team RLL and their M3 GT taking the eventual win, overcoming a spinout into the grass on the last lap in the dark. The battle between the two Corvettes and two BMW’s was ongoing for hours, with all four being within five seconds of each other. 

 

So many beautiful cars running so close to each other is a constant battle just to stay on the track and not impede the progress of the much faster LMP cars. Once it got dark, it is hard to imagine how difficult it was to maintain a fast pace. Bright headlights and lit car numbers are just about all you see in the later hours of the race.

 

An example of course safety changes in front of pit row had ALMS veteran driver Johnny O’Connell using Forza 4 to demonstrate the strategy used to enter turn one. The new pit row is wider and employs a longer concrete wall forcing drivers to enter the turn earlier, losing some speed.

 

During Saturday’s Sebring race, the Forza community gathered around the official Forza Motorsport Facebook page to hang out and enjoy the first Turn 10 Track Day of the season. The Turn 10 community team joined lots of Forza fans in that chat as we enjoyed the race live via the ESPN app on Xbox LIVE. Prizes were awarded, trivia questions were answered and a great time was had by all! We’ll be holding Turn 10 Track Days for each race on this year’s ALMS season so be on the lookout for more information soon! Did your favorite teams win? What surprised you the most? Discuss it in our Rear View Mirror Forum.

 

Next month the ALMS takes us to Long Beach, CA. Here is the rest of the ALMS schedule.

 

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Honorable mention in our community photo contest RsK spywikky
 

Juan Montoya sets respectable lap time at Indianapolis in March King of the Track Event 

The chance to pit your Forza 4 driving skills against a real race car driver is a rare opportunity. This month’s King of the Track Rivals event lets you do just that. Juan Pablo Montoya, former F1 driver and current NASCAR competitor, is also a Forza 4 fan and enjoyed himself as he set a respectable lap time to beat on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix Track, driving a 2009 Corvette ZR1. If you want to follow his times, his Gamertag is JuanPMontoya42 . His best time to date was 1:32.117. With the NASCAR season underway he may not have much more time to commit to the event. But who knows, so you should keep an eye on him on the leaderboards.

 

Community Bounty: Pick on the New Guy 

Well, I came into the Community Bounty thinking I was pretty good. Not the best, mind you, but better than average.  While that may be true, I have to hand it to the Forza Community; you guys are really fast. I’m actually pretty happy with a time around the top 32nd percentile of this group.  My best time was 2.11.598. The 7,999 drivers that beat me by the event’s end got a 2005 Honda NSX-R GT unicorn which was sent out last Tuesday.

 

I had a great time being the bounty.  It made me improve my Forza 4 skills and I really enjoyed getting to know the Wiesmann MF5,the Nürburgring Grand Prix track, as well as the Forza Community. That S turn after the second hairpin still wrecks me and, in the last turn, all I hear is tire squealing no matter what I do. I do know the more time I put in the better I will get, it’s all a matter of time and patience. Before I came to work here I had completed almost all of the Forza 4’s single player career events, but I always used an automatic transmission. Now I drive with a manual and clutch at the same level. This not only increased the level of immersion I feel while playing, but I also know I have stepped up my game.

 

As part of my Community Bounty event, I asked for stories about your favorite cars. We will be giving away the unicorn of choice to the top three stories. I picked my favorites and they are featured below.

 

Thanks to all of you for your participation and contributions, we enjoyed reading them.

 

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Honorable mention in our community photo contest Aztech318

 

My Favorite Car Story Winners 

First place went to a story about a 1973 VW Bug, go figure since, if you read my bio in the Week in Review, you would know I am a VW freak. It was also well-written and in the spirit I was looking for. Written by AfineGentleman Read it here.

 

Second place went to a well- written father and son story about a Ford Probe.  The car had a great look and tells the story of not only what they did to the car but what they shared. Written by PINKE1842 Read it here.

 

Third place goes to a fun but somewhat hard luck story about a first car. I found it to be engaging and it made me think of many cars I have picked up with high hopes that never were realized. Written by Blue91SL Read it here.

 

Forum Forefront 

There is a lot of talk about the upcoming Porsche Expansion Pack and Forza Horizon out there.  No doubt because both of these announcements are freakin’ exciting. The return of Porsche has people asking if it’s real and wondering how much it will cost. Well, it’s real and is scheduled for release May 22 and will cost $19.99. As if having 30 Porsches isn’t awesome enough, the pack will also see 20 new career mode events, new Rivals Mode fun, and 250 gamerscore points in achievements as well. 

 

If you haven’t visited our Forza Horizon forums, now’s the time to get in on the discussion. Over the coming months, we’ll be revealing more about the game. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to what you have to say about what you’ve seen so far!

 

I’m constantly amazed at how realistic Forza 4 is; the photo feature is almost a game in itself. Check out this photo rating thread, these guys really know their photography. I love the action shots where cars are on two wheels or catching air.  I am always trying to jump my rides.

 

This looks so fun, Cops and Cruisers.  The effort and creativity that has gone into building a lifelike and fun environment is awesome.  Be a cop or be a cruiser, be good or be bad, you can even evade pursuit by reaching the pits.  Love it! 

 

This brings to mind a question, what other kinds of environments would be fun to play in? Using the Bernese Alps as a setting what can you come up with?  I’ll throw this out there: Spy Hunter.  Let’s hear your ideas in this thread.

  

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Community photo contest honorable mention Shuriken512 

–Schommer’s Rides: 1967 Rover TC2000 P6 

In the U.S., Rovers are very rare, but they do have a strong and loyal following.  Not as loyal as that in the UK, but strong nonetheless.  I had never heard of one before I owned one but was sold the moment I had my eyes on it. I still regret selling it, but that’s life, right? We all make choices and live with the decisions we make.

 

There used to be a local weekly magazine out called the Buy & Sell.  It was kind of like Craigslist is to us now or the Little Nickel Want Ads, but better. It was a magazine full of stuff people either wanted or wanted to get rid of. There were free sections, trade sections, and lots of cars for sale.   I used to buy it regularly and, if I had a little extra money (which was rare) or an extra car that I was growing tired of (not as rare), I would peruse it for something that caught my interest. One week I saw an ad for the Rover P6 and the owner had called out that it was not a Range Rover, it was a Rover car. When I called him he told me he owned several Rovers and this used to be his show car. It was a great looker and was sound mechanically, except for a bad valve. So it would drive, but not reliably, and not for long.

 

I asked him if he was interested in a trade for my beefy 1977 Ford F-250 work van. I liked it, but it had a 460 that sucked gas and it was well- used with a couple minor issues.  He was interested so I drove out into the country to take a look. The Rover was flat gray, with red leather interior and red steel rims with hubcaps.  The license plate ended in 007, which was super cool since, in the early James Bond movies, the car that the Spectre agents drove in pursuit of Bond was always a Rover P6. I ended up hanging out there for a couple hours chatting and we traded flat across. The ride home was an anxious one; as the Rover was prone to stalling and had a rough idle due to the bad valve. I made it to my mother’s house where I had a garage and stowed it where the van used to be. My first truly exotic car and a new project.

 

This Rover was a TC2000 which had a big 4-cylinder motor with dual-overhead cams. Other models had an all-aluminum 3.5 liter V6 pretty high-tech for 1967. Replacing the valve would mean pulling the head.  I enlisted my good friend Richard to help me and he was happy to contribute to such an unusual project. Once disassembled, we saw that one valve had a hole in it, just as the previous owner had suspected. I found a gentleman online from a Rover club in Canada, who was happy to donate a couple valves and we were just about ready to go.

 

While waiting for the package from the club fellow and the head gasket kit I had also ordered, it seemed prudent to get the head pressure tested to ensure no further issues existed. I took it to a reputable machine shop in Seattle and, after a couple weeks of no communication, I found that they were trying to find a full set of valves to replace the old ones.  I reminded them all I wanted was a pressure test.  Somewhat frustrated, the clerk told me I could come get my head and parts. “What parts?” I asked myself.  When I arrived to get them I was handed my head fully disassembled and a bag full of springs and valves. Anyone who know what they are doing will tell you that each valve and spring should be ordered to be re-assembled in their original locations.  These idiots not only took it apart when they did not need to, they had jumbled everything up thinking I was going to buy all new parts and have them rebuild it. Now I had a puzzle and a lot more work to do.  I took my parts and refused to pay, swearing to never do business with such the shop again. 

 

After much work, Richard and I did get it back together again and running pretty well.  The car still idled rough and needed carburetor work, which I had done at a unique shop at high expense. Now it started easily, sounded awesome, and ran out sweetly.

 

I drove it to a friend’s house on a sunny day to help him with a house project. Shortly after arriving my buddy said, “John, you better come out here.” Some clown had backed a senior citizen community van into the rear quarter. Even though he was twice my size I shouted the guy down to the size of a mouse.  I was so upset I could have killed him. When his supervisor arrived to document the event she was impolite too, which made things worse.

 

Even though the damage was minor, the car was never the same. The Rover’s show car pride had been hurt and things only got worse; including failing brakes, and a failed alternator, and not a soul being interested in buying it off me. 

 

Not long after, my mother lost her house and the car had to be parked on the street near my marina. It almost got towed twice and I eventually took it to a dealer I had worked with several times and traded it in for a 7-series BMW with a 5-speed. I’m sure my P6 was repaired properly and sold to a proper owner.  Sadly, I was just not the right person to hold onto it any longer.