Ford brings new F-150 to dealers, consumers for test drives


DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is demonstrating the capabilities of its redesigned, aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150 pickup to dealership sales personnel and consumers.

Sales consultants in 26 cities have begun testing the new truck and its features in a program called the “Built Ford Tough Roundup.” It runs through December, Ford said in a statement today.

From Oct. 11 to Dec. 21, consumers in 38 cities can take part in 20,000 test drives being offered by Ford. Product experts hired by Ford to explain the truck’s features will go along for the ride.

Ford is claiming best-in-class towing and payload capabilities for the new pickup. The company is eager to show off the performance benefits from its switch from steel to aluminum and educate customers who might be wary of aluminum’s ability to be as tough as steel.

Ford spokesman Mike Levine said the consumer drives could happen at shopping malls or big-box retail stores.

The new truck, which is up to 700 pounds lighter than the outgoing, steel-bodied F-150, can tow 12,200 pounds, about 900 pounds more than the truck it is replacing.

Maximum payload goes from 3,120 pounds on the 2014 F-150 to 3,300 pounds.

By comparison, a regular cab, two-wheel-drive version of the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado can tow 12,000 pounds and haul 1,980 pounds, according to Chevrolet’s website.

Ford is offering four engines for the new F-150, including a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. Ford has not issued gas mileage figures for any of the new models. Levine says the truck should be EPA certified sometime in November.

In today’s statement, Ford gave some ballpark numbers, saying the new truck should deliver improvements ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent over the current truck.

Ford today listed performance numbers for the biggest of the four engines. The 5.0-liter V-8 engine will crank out 385 hp and 387 lb.-ft. of torque, up from 360 hp and 380 lb. ft. of torque on the current 5.0 V-8. Ford dropped the 6.2-liter V-8 for the new truck.

Ford is now converting its Dearborn Truck Plant to produce the 2015 F-150. Once workers finish that conversion and production ramps up, Ford will then shut down its other F-150 plant, in Kansas City, and repeat the conversion in the first quarter of 2015.

Ford has notified dealers that they should receive stock orders in December but that retail and fleet orders are not likely to arrive before February.

Ford will be encouraging walk-up participation. Consumers can pre-register at

2015 Galpin Ford GTR1

2015 Galpin Ford GTR1: Quick Spin2015 Galpin Ford GTR1: Quick Spin2015 Galpin Ford GTR1: Quick Spin2015 Galpin Ford GTR1: Quick Spin2015 Galpin Ford GTR1: Quick Spin2015 Galpin Ford GTR1: Quick Spin2015 Galpin Ford GTR1: Quick Spin2015 Galpin Ford GTR1: Quick Spin

Last year in Monterey, we met GTR1 for the first timeGalpin Auto Sports pulled the wraps off its Ford GT-based supercar, powered by a twin-turbocharged 5.4-litre V8 good for a whopping 1,024 horsepower and 739 pound-feet of torque. The thing was totally custom-made and reportedly took some 12,000 man hours to create. And there it sat on the Pebble Beach grass, $1,000,000-plus price tag and all.

This year, the Galpin was back, albeit with one big change. That twin-turbo engine? Gone. In its place, a 5.4-litre V8 with a 4.0-litre Whipple supercharger bolted on, delivering an astonishing 1,058 hp and 992 lb-ft of torque on 110-octane fuel. 0-60 (0-96 km/h)? 2.9 seconds. Top speed? Somewhere above 360 kilometres per hour (225 miles per hour).

“Some things to keep in mind: no stability control, no traction control,” were the only warnings given by Galpin’s Brandon Boeckmann before taking me on a quick spin in the supercar. And after having my eyes thrown into the back of my skull a few times, laughing hysterically and trying to regain full use of my hearing after my ear drums being bombarded by the apocalyptic roar behind me, Brandon pulled over and said it was my turn, if I was ready to take the wheel. Gulp… 

Driving Notes

  • Getting in and out of the GTR1 is the same awkward experience it is with the Ford GT. The doors extend into the roof panels, so you have to open wide. You don’t really hop in so much as you sort of throw yourself into the driver’s chair. The seat grips you tight, you reach down and slide the chair forward. You instinctively tilt your head to the right as you pull the door closed. At that moment, you’re greeted with a familiar interior – though in a jarringly unfamiliar all-blue colour scheme, here – with a small steering wheel and familiarly long, horizontal row of gauges that extend out to the middle of the dash.
  • Turn the key in the ignition, hit the red engine start button in the centre stack, and the GTR1 comes to live with a noise that cannot be precisely described. It’s loud. No, louder. No, louder than that. It’s so loud that the Galpin crew were not able to test it at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca because it exceeds the track’s noise restrictions. It is illegally loud. And you won’t be able to get enough.
  • Pulling away at low speeds, the GTR1 chugs to life, with a throttle and clutch that are surprisingly easy to modulate. There’s a progressive nature to the go-pedal, too – all that power isn’t available right at the start. Good thing, too, so you can actually pull out onto the road with some dignity, and you won’t get the back end to kick out until you’re deeper into the throttle’s travel.
  • The shift lever has been shortened versus the standard GT, and the gears are selected with a solid, shorter-throw action, too. You don’t feel like you’re trying to move the earth when shifting gears in the Galpin – it’s pretty easy, and feels natural. It reminds me of the stock Ford GT in this regard – incredibly capable, but very easy to drive.
  • Now, to be clear, I didn’t even reach close to the car’s full potential on my street drive. I was limited to the roads of the Monterey Peninsula, and while there were plenty of great curves to throw the GTR1 into, it is simply too powerful to explore its limits on public streets.
  • From what I can surmise, Galpin engineers have done a nice job of not only keeping the spirit of the Ford GT intact, they’ve added some of that conceptual madness in a way that’s easy to manage. The steering is generally good, with a direct action that isn’t overly touchy, allowing the driver to correct the occasional bouts of oversteer with ease.
  • The ride height has been lowered, and the car rides on 20-inch wheels with super grippy Pirelli PZero tires. The ride is rather harsh, considering the overall lack of suspension travel, but it won’t break your back. The comfortable, supportive seats keep things copacetic from inside, too – even if you do hit a particularly jarring bump, you won’t be thrown around inside the cockpit.
  • Most impressive, though, are the brakes, able to absolutely halt the speeding GTR1 on a dime. The car uses carbon-carbon rotors, and they stop. Immediately. Yet they don’t feel snatchy when you don’t need 100-per cent, remaining well-modulated and progressive.
  • The only thing I’m not fully in love with is the styling. From the rear three-quarter view, the GTR1 looks really cool, and reasonably unique. But from the front, I can’t help but think it still looks like a less-attractive GT, with some odd Jaguar XK cues thrown in there, too. That said, it gets a ton of attention – everyone on the road gave me the thumbs-up, and cyclists on the side of the road waved me by, some urging me to slam the throttle and give them the full brunt of the Galpin’s noise and fury. Monterey Car Week brings out some really interesting stuff to the peninsula in northern California, and even in this company, I was a rock star.
  • Galpin Auto Sports has six Ford GT chassis standing by, reading to fill orders for the monstrous supercar for those able to handle the over $1-million starting price. But you’ll get a car that’s built to order, with the interior and exterior able to be fully customized. Of course, with enough time and money, pretty much anything is possible.

All in, the GTR1 is a wonderful car to drive – to say it’s fast, or quick, doesn’t even explain it all. The car takes to the streets with an outstanding prowess, and the only car it reminds me of is the Ford GT on which it’s based. It’s loud, brutish, and absolutely absurd. And like the GT was so many years ago, the Galpin is like nothing else you can drive today.

Ford car makers wear ‘age suits’ to design for older drivers

Ford designers wear 'age suits' to tailor cars for older drivers

Ford designers wear ‘age suits’ to tailor cars for older drivers

Among the many new innovations in computerized vehicles, including driverless cars, displayed at the Intelligent Transport Systems conference in Detroit this week, Ford Motor Company is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its “age suit.”

Age suit special features

  • It uses gloves that reduce the sense of touch, and a motorized glove to mimic hand tremors
  • Sound-deadening headphones places limits on hearing
  • Goggles that simulate different visual impairments such as glaucoma and colour distortion
  • Extra weight placed on foot recreates challenges of walking
  • Knee braces limit flexibility
  • Mid-section brace restricts movement, making it harder to bend at waist and harder to get in and out of vehicles
  • Restraint device on elbows limits arm mobility
  • Neck brace increases difficulty in neck rotation

The auto company is designing cars for an aging population by using specialized suits to make anyone’s body feel 20 to 40 years older. The custom-made suit was first developed in the 1990s.

The wearable items add about 14 kilograms and simulate neck stiffness, joint pain, back problems and various eye conditions — issues taken into consideration by ergonomics engineers while conceptualizing new vehicles.

“It really does give you an appreciation of some of the limitations,” said Nadia Preston, a Ford ergonomics engineer who has worn the suit. “I found just taking simple steps was a challenge, getting in and out of the vehicle.”

She said the third-generation suit helps designers understand the needs of an aging population, while the designs benefit everyone.

“Nobody ever complains the gauges are too large or ‘Wow this is too easy to read,’” she said. “It’s going to serve all walks of life.”

John Piruzza and his wife Giuseppa are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with a new Ford Lincoln, and said when shopping for a new car at their age, certain features become a priority.

“If you drive long distances, you have to have a nice comfortable car,” said Piruzza. “You open up the door, it’s nice and heavy, that tells you the car is built solid.”

The CBC’s Lisa Xing tries on a special glove that mimics hand tremors. (CBC )

These are the same issues Scott Ohler, a sales manager at Performance Ford Lincoln in Windsor, said concern older customers.

“Usually they’ll come in with a complaint about a vehicle they currently have—too low to the ground, hard time getting out, we’ll use that as a point of reference and look to make recommendations on what they’re driving currently,” said Ohler.

Each detail of the cars, including the placement of handles and design of the steering wheel, is carefully considered.

Special suit to understand pregnant women

Ford also uses what it calls the “empathy belly,” another suit that helps engineers understand the limitations pregnant women experience in their third trimester.

It also adds 14 kilograms and gives the person wearing it the appearance of being pregnant, while limiting their mobility and comfort.

CBC Windsor’s Lisa Xing give the suit a try. Check out our video as she takes us through the experience.

2015 Ford Mondeo Is Laden with Goodies

2015 Ford Mondeo Is Laden with Goodies [Photo Gallery]

While the outgoing, aging Ford Mondeo is a common sight on European roads, an all-new model has been previewed by a design study nearly three years ago. But the wait is almost over and the all-new Mondeo is slated to hit showrooms early next year.

First of all, we deem necessary to point out that the all-new Mondeo is coming as a liftback sedan with the exception of top-level trims and the hybrid. The hybrid Mondeo is basically the European version of the US-spec 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid and it will be built alongside diesel and petrol Mondeos at Ford’s production facility in Valencia, Spain. Furthermore, a range-topping Vignale trim will be added in the near future, which includes more visual sauce and cabin design spice, as well as some preferential services.

As expected, a wagon version is also available for all the mums and dads that need adequate space for their families. A neat thing about the new model is that even the entry-level variant comes with alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, Sync2, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that deletes much of yesteryear’s physical buttons, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity, while satellite navigation is an optional extra. An interesting option comes in the form of inflatable rear seat belt technology. Ford says that the industry-first safety belt technology can disperse crash forces across a body area five times greater than that of conventional seat belts.

As anyone would expect from a new-generation model, the latest Mondeo is laden with a suite of other active and passive safety features, but the engineering team behind the nameplate hasn’t forgot to spruce up the powertrain. As such, the powerplant lineup now includes a 2-liter TDCi twin sequential turbocharged diesel with 210 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque available from 2,000 rpm. A small low-inertia turbo is used to respond quickly to initial boost demand, while a bigger high-inertia unit sustains boost pressure higher in the rev range.

In addition to that, a revised 2-liter TDCi turbo diesel engine with a single variable geometry turbocharger churns out either 150 or 180 horsepower. All three 2-liter TDCi variants feature a revised engine block, new cylinder head and fuel injection designs, with the addition of a NOx trap exhaust after-treatment system to lower CO2 emissions. The lower powered diesels can be had with Ford’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system for added traction and road-holding.

As for the petrol-fed end of the deal, the peppy 1L three-cylinder EcoBoost will be available with 125 horsepower on tap. If you’re not a downsizing fan, then the 1.5-liter EcoBoost with 160 ponies or the 2-liter EcoBoost with 203 or 240 horsepower are the alternatives. If you want to go green without opting for the hybrid model, then the 1.6-liter diesel-fed ECOnetic Technology Mondeo is the car for you. Other highlights worth mentioning are the adaptive LED headlamp technology, the digital instrument cluster, electric power assisted steering and Active Grille Shutter technology as on the smaller Focus.

2015 Ford Transit PTV Concept Could be a Next-Gen Paddy Wagon

2015 Ford Transit PTV Concept Could be a Next-Gen Paddy Wagon [Photo Gallery]

Ford gave up a lot of market share in the police car business when it killed the Crown Victoria, but it is looking to reestablish itself as a leader in this market once again with a new lineup of products to help those who protect and serve. Building on Ford’s ever-growing lineup of police vehicles, the automaker has introduced a concept for prisoner transport with the 2015 Ford Transit Police Transport Vehicle (PTV).

Developed by Ford in conjunction with a Pennsylvania-based upfitter and its Police Advisory Board, the 2015 Ford Transit PTV adds a secure cell to the van’s cargo area with the ability to transport up to 12 prisoners in three separate holding areas. For the officers, the Transit PTV adds the usual equipment expected inside a police vehicle including the center console with a mount for a computer screen and all the buttons and switches for various accessories.

Transit PTV is the latest example of Ford’s deep commitment to helping provide law enforcement agencies with capable vehicles. This concept proves Transit is upfit-ready and designed to Built Ford Tough standards. Many Police Advisory Board members have had the chance to drive this vehicle and they are excited about it. This new vehicle is tough, smart and efficient – ideal for the needs of law enforcement agencies,” said Jonathan Honeycutt, Ford police marketing manager.

Although it is just a conceptual idea at this time, it doesn’t look like the Transit PTV is too far away from making daily runs from the court house to jails and prisons. If built, the 2015 Ford Transit PTV would be the fifth police vehicle from ford following the likes of the Taurus-based Police Interceptor Sedan, the Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility as well as Special Service Vehicle versions of the Ford F-150 and Ford Expedition.


-Ford adds to its Police Interceptor sedan and utility vehicle lineup with new prisoner transport concept based on 2015 Ford Transit full-size van line
-2015 Ford Transit Prisoner Transport Vehicle, or Transit PTV, offers space to carry as many as 12 prisoners in three separate compartments
-Transit PTV developed with input from Ford’s Police Advisory Board to demonstrate Transit’s flexibility for law enforcement needs

Law enforcement agencies looking for a new way to securely transport prisoners between facilities have an innovative option to consider based on the all-new Ford Transit.

The 2015 Ford Transit Prisoner Transport Vehicle concept, or Transit PTV, features an upfit prisoner conveyance system Ford Motor Company created with Warminster, Pennsylvania-based Havis Prisoner Transport Solutions to showcase Transit’s flexibility for law enforcement applications. It offers space to carry as many as 12 prisoners in three separate compartments.

“Transit PTV is the latest example of Ford’s deep commitment to helping provide law enforcement agencies with capable vehicles,” said Jonathan Honeycutt, Ford police marketing manager. “This concept proves Transit is upfit-ready and designed to Built Ford Tough standards.”

Transit PTV was designed with input from Ford’s Police Advisory Board, a group of law enforcement professionals from across North America.

“Many Police Advisory Board members have had the chance to drive this vehicle and they are excited about it,” said Honeycutt. “This new vehicle is tough, smart and efficient – ideal for the needs of law enforcement agencies.”

Transit PTV is built on the all-new 2015 Ford Transit van, which offers the most configuration choices among full-size vans to provide a vehicle that meets the specific needs of buyers.

Transit is available in three roof heights, two wheelbases, three lengths and four body styles. It provides a range of powertrain choices with a lineup that includes two gasoline engine options, an E85-capable 3.7-liter V6 and an available 3.5-liter EcoBoost® as well as an available 3.2-liter Power Stroke® diesel.

Transit makes extensive use of boron steel, which has proven its durability through more than 7 million miles of testing.

Ford is the sales leader in police vehicles, offering a wide array of choices to meet the specialized needs of law enforcement agencies. Transit PTV joins Police Interceptor sedan and utility vehicle, Special Service Police Sedan, F-150 Special Service Vehicle and Expedition Special Service Vehicle in the Ford law enforcement vehicle lineup.

Ford Police Interceptor utility was the best-selling police vehicle in 2013 – a trend that has continued through 2014, according to Ford analysis of Polk police vehicle registration data. Together, Ford Police Interceptor sedan and utility topped 25,000 units sold in 2013, with the utility vehicle accounting for 56 percent of sales.

Does 999 Mean “Ford Performance” More Than SVT?


Based on a market research study commissioned by Ford Motor Company rumors are circulatingthat FoMoCo will change the branding for its high performance vehicles from SVT (for Special Vehicle Team) to 999, the name of Henry Ford’s second race car, popularized by barnstorming driver Barney Oldfield. Marketers have seized on “authenticity” as a lever by which they can move consumers and I suspect that reaching back over a century for a brand name may have something to do with that. As someone who likes history I can’t complain about Ford looking into reusing a historic name, but  while its true that the name 999 has been associated with Ford racing since before the establishment of the Ford Motor Company, the name SVT means something to today’s car enthusiasts and for most of them 999 is just the number before 1,000. Today’s performance consumers are more likely to recognize the name Ken Block than Barney Oldfield.


There was a time, though, when 999 was the name of the most famous racing car(s) of the early motoring age, holder of a land speed record and winner of numerous races and exhibition matches with Oldfield at the wheel, er, rather tiller. Unlike Henry Ford’s first racer, the Sweepstakes car, which was a nifty little runabout, 999 was a relatively primitive machine that was all about “brute force” in the words of the transportation curator of the Henry Ford Museum, Matt Anderson. Both the Sweepstakes car and 999 are in the Racing in America exhibit in the Museum’s Driving America display.


It’s not known exactly who first coined the phrase, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday”, but Henry Ford understood the publicity value in winning races with his automobiles. It was his 1901 win with the Sweepstakes car against established automaker Alexander Winton that gave him credibility with investors and allowed the information for the Henry Ford Company. Ford almost immediately ran into difficulties with his backers. Part of it was his dream of building an inexpensive car for the masses but also part of it was that Henry wanted to race cars and his partners wanted him to focus on building and selling them.


In early 1902, he told his brother in law, Milton Bryant that his interest in racing was all about dollars and cents: “… there is a barrel of money to be made in this business.… My company will kick about me following racing but they will get the Advertising and I expect to make $ where I can’t make ¢s at Manufacturing.”


By March of that year Henry had left the company that bore his name, taking with him $900 severance and the plans for a new race cars. With financial backing from bicycle racer Tom Cooper and the technical assistance of Ed “Spider Huff and C.H. Willis (who would later persuade Ford to use vanadium steel in the Model T to great success), in May 1902 Ford began construction of two race cars with huge engines and wooden frames. One was painted red and the other yellow, named respectively, Red Devil and Arrow. The had four cylinder inline engines with 7.25 inch bores and a stroke of 7 inches for a total displacement of a massive 1,155.3 cubic inches. It put out between 70 and 100 horsepower. There was no transmission. Power was transferred to the rear wheels via a wooden block clutch on the 230 lb exposed flywheel. There were also no universal joints nor was there a differential. A solid drive shaft connected to what was literally an open rear axle, just a ring and pinion gear setup. There was no rear suspension and steering was by a primitive tiller with two upright handles and a center pivot. Not only was the flywheel exposed, so was the valve gear and the crankshaft. With a bumpy ride and oil spraying everywhere, it wasn’t a pleasant drive.

Barney Oldfield and the car that made him and Henry Ford famous.

As primitive as 999 looks, it did have at least a couple of features that were advanced for its day like that simple drive shaft and rear axle. Most early automobiles had a chain drive for each of the driving wheels. 999′s pneumatic “balloon” tires were also novel at the time.


Though he would later *drive Arrow to a land speed recordof 91.37 mph in the flying mile, Henry was said to be a bit intimidated by the machine. Instead he hired bicycle racer Barney Oldfield to pilot 999 in the five-mile Manufacturers’ Challenge Cup race on Oct. 25, 1902, in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. In a way it was a rematch between Ford and Winton, but while the 999 became firmly associated with Henry Ford in the public mind, by the time of the actual race Ford had backed out of the venture, selling his interest to Cooper because of a poor test session a couple of weeks before the race.

According to legend, Oldfield had never driven an automobile before the race, which he won going away, covering the five miles in 5 minutes and 28 seconds, a record for the distance on a closed course. Though he sold his interest in 999, Ford, though, retained publicity rights, which proved to be invaluable. Oldfield renamed Red Devil “999″ after a famous locomotive of the day. Oldfield and Cooper took the two cars around the country, setting speed records, winning races and establishing Oldfield as the first celebrity race driver in America. Having made a name for himself driving a Ford, though, Oldfield switched to the competition, Winton, in the summer of 1903. By then Henry Ford was focusing on getting the Ford Motor Company off of the ground.

It's tempting to call that an "open differential" but there's no differential at all, just a ring & pinion gear set. Full gallery here.

In September of that year, both the 999 and the Arrow were entered into the inaugural car race at the Wisconsin state fair. Huff was driving 999 and Frank Day piloted the Arrow. Day, though, was killed when he crashed the car. The destroyed Arrow was returned to Detroit where Ford rebuilt it, planning on a land speed record attempt that winter on frozen Lake St. Clair. On Jan. 12, 1904, Ford set a new flying mile record. Though that record would stand for less than a month, the young Ford Motor Company benefited mightily from the publicity surrounding Ford’s LSR effort.

The Detroit Tribune described the record attempt: “As Ford flashed by it was noticed he wore no goggles or other face protection. Humped over his steering tiller, the tremendous speed throwing the machine in zig-zag fashion. Ford was taking chances that no man, not even that specialist in averted suicide, Barney Oldfield, had dared to attempt.”

Henry Ford driving the "999" in an Exhibition Run against Harry Harkness in a Mercedes Simplex, at the Detroit Driving Club's 1 Mile Track in Grosse Pointe.

Henry Ford driving the “999″ in an Exhibition Run against Harry Harkness in a Mercedes Simplex, at the Detroit Driving Club’s 1 Mile Track in Grosse Pointe.

Cooper sold the cars in 1904 and some years later Henry Ford would acquire it for the museum that bears his name. Shortly before his death, Henry Ford is said to have remarked to Barney Oldfield: “You made me and I made you.” Oldfield shook his head and replied “Old 999 made both of us.”


I’ll have to check with Matt Anderson to find out the current running status of “Old 999″. It was still in operating condition in 1963 when racer Dan Gurney visited the Henry Ford Museum while he was racing for Ford. Gurney would go on to win at LeMans with co-driver A.J. Foyt and as one of the leading American racers who happened to be driving for the blue oval, he was an honored guest. When the curator asked him if he’d like to drive it, Gurney jumped at the opportunity and soon afterwards the then over 60 year old race car was transported to Ford’s nearby test track where the all-American racer took it for a spin.

Dan Gurney drives Old 999 on Ford's Dearborn test track, 1963

Richard Barrett described the scene for Ford Times magazine:

It was a bone-chilling, blustery day nearly sixty years ago when Henry Ford drove his famous “999″ racer over the ice at Lake St. Clair, Michigan, to set a new world’s speed mark of ninety-two miles per hour. The Detroit Tribune of January 13, 1904, headlined the event as a “wild drive against time.” The article went on to say, “As Ford flashed by it was noticed he wore no goggles or other face protection. Humped over his steering tiller, the tremendous speed throwing the machine in zig-zag fashion. Ford was taking chances that no man, not even that specialist in averted suicide, Barney Oldfield, had dared to attempt.” As fate would surely be delighted to have it, the day last March when Dan Gurney, one of today’s racing greats, drove the same old “999″ at Ford Motor Company’s high-speed test track, the cold wind cut like a knife and a driving snow all but blinded the eyes. As the car was started up, and Gurney got his first close look, he whistled in wonder and said, “It’s a fire-breathing monster!” Henry Ford said exactly the same thing the first time he drove it.

Gurney, like Ford before him, proved his championship mettle that cold March day. With only a short briefing on the mechanics of the monster, a few questions asked and answered, he took the “999″ out on the infield track to get the “feel” of the car. A short time later, after the high-speed test track was cleared, Gurney got his flying start and roared into the “soup bowl” (a high-speed, steeply banked turn). Here’s how Gurney later described the sensation: “It’s quite a thrill. I was looking for the exhaust pipes and then I realized there are hardly any. They’re about two inches long and I could see flame coming out. The car is vibrating and everything is twisting every time it fires; you can feel everything from one end of the car to the other.

“The car is a little bit deceiving because it’s so high geared, but you’re really covering the ground. It’s sort of like comparing a running elephant to a deer. The low revs of the engine are what do it, and those four big cylinders. You can feel them working. Until it’s going forty to fifty miles an hour it doesn’t really settle down, and then it hardly seems to be turning over at all. It’s just chug, chug, chug with a lot of popping, smoke and roar. All the while you’re sitting there, straddling that big engine high on the single seat and remembering to keep your feet out of the way of that exposed flywheel. It’s as big as a man-hole cover.”

Asked if he was concerned about controlling the flying “999″ Gurney smiled and answered, “I just prayed nobody would get in front of me. There were patches of ice and snow on the track, and at the speed I was going it would take at least two hundred yards to stop. I can imagine Henry Ford driving that thing ninety-two miles an hour on ice. Very, very tricky. You’d have to be extremely delicate with the tiller and braking or you’d really be in trouble. Having good eyesight would be a help in a panic stop, although with all the engine racket they could probably hear you coming far enough so they could get out of the way.”

Gurney later recounted the experience for the Car Crazy television show.

Car hacking: who’s monitoring (or controlling) your car?

As vehicles become computers on wheels, the risk of car hacking is real, according to Australia-based Queensland University of Technology (QUT) road-safety expert Professor Andry Rakotonirainy from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS).

He has researched the security systems of existing fleet and future autonomous and connected cars and found there is little protection against hacking.

“The security protection on cars is virtually non-existent; it is at a level of protection that a desktop computer system had in the 1980s,” he said. “The basic security requirements such as authentication, confidentiality and integrity are not strong.

Accessing the “brains” of a car

“What this means is that as vehicles become more and more connected and autonomous, with the ability to communicate to other vehicles and infrastructure through wireless networks, the threat of cyber attack increases putting people’s safety and security at risk.”

The development of intelligent transport systems means future cars will be connected to wireless networks as standard. He said technology called CAN bus (controller area network), accessible under the steering wheel, provides access to the “brain” of a car and will allow anyone to check the health of a vehicle and control it.

“CAN bus allows all microcontrollers within a car to communicate to each other and is accessible via a mere plug,” he said. “It can be used to control almost everything such as the airbags, brakes, cruise control and power steering systems” and can be accessed locally or remotely with simple devices.

However, “applications of the future will depend on high data rates that cannot possibly be supported by today’s CAN” and other systems, according to an EE Times blog. “Parking cameras, HD digital infotainment, ADAS sensors like Radar and eventually the ‘eyes and ears’ for self-driving systems of the future will all be built on a high bandwidth Ethernet backbone…. [driven by the need to] minimize the additional cabling in the car. …  For example, BMW’s camera based driver assistance system is supported by Ethernet.”

Connected cars


“This is just the tip of the iceberg, as future cars will feature a tremendous mix of wireless networks and offer numerous opportunities to improve safety, entertainment and comfort,” Rakotonirainy continued.

“For example, cars will be wirelessly connected to other cars,” he said. “If a vehicle stops ahead, a warning can be issued to drivers behind to slow down, or vehicles can automatically take control and slowdown without the driver’s intervention. (KurzweilAI has covered this coming “vehicle-to-vehicle, V2V, technology in several articles.)

“It will also be possible for vehicles to connect with infrastructure. For example, if a light turned red, but an approaching vehicle failed to slow, perhaps because the driver was distracted, a warning could be issued or action taken to automatically control the vehicle.”

Rakotonirainy said that while these features had the potential to improve road safety, if someone hacks into a vehicle’s electronics via a wireless network and exploits the current security loophole, they can track or take control of it.

He said it was vital for car makers, government and road safety experts to turn their attention to this global security threat. “We need to be analyzing the types of risk that that these intelligent vehicles are facing and work to provide a secure, reliable and trusted protection system.

“A vehicle’s communication security over wireless networks cannot be an afterthought and needs to be comprehensively considered at the early stages of design and deployment of these high-tech systems from the hardware, software, user and policy point of view.”

Nightmare scenarios

“Modern vehicles can have as many as 200 CPUs and multiple communications networks between internal computer systems,” according to Ken Schneider, vice president of technology strategy at software security company Symantec, as Computerworld notes. “While most systems are isolated within the car, others are used to transmit data back to manufacturers, dealers or even the government. …

For example, “Ford says it’s collecting location data and call data if you use [Ford] SYNC to dictate emails. Ford then shares that data with business partners … according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”

Schnenider said nightmare scenarios could include traffic violations being issued without law enforcement officers on the scene or federal agencies having the ability to track your every move in a car.

“Perhaps even worse, if it were possible to hack into on-board systems, malicious software could be downloaded to a car’s computers, with potentially deadly outcomes. Among other things, a piece of malware could, for example, “tell the braking control system to suddenly activate,” Schneider said.

Meet Tornado Hunter Chris Chittick. This is his Real Story

Chris Chittick is a tornado hunting pro when it comes to getting unbelievable video footage of some of North America’s most devastating storms. Whether he and the rest of the Tornado Hunters are driving their F-150 towards or away from danger, Chris is always armed with his video camera.

Storm footage is difficult to come by, but amazing storm footage from some of the most dangerous areas in the world is actually Chris’s specialty. Tornados, blizzards, hurricanes, water spouts, anything Mother Nature can throw at Chris, he’s going to capture it on video, edit it, and share it on Facebook and YouTube.

But don’t think for a second that Chris is just in this for the thrill. For him, it’s all about safety. It’s about getting the best images, capturing mind-blowing visuals, and providing real time storm information to those who need it. Chris is an expert on weather phenomena and often gives lectures on extreme weather safety. He works closely with emergency technicians, engineers and disaster relief organizations to help educate on prevention and survival in the field.

And when it comes to safety, Chris and the team team rely on their F-150.

“You need to have faith in your driver; you need to have faith in the vehicle itself; and I have complete faith in the vehicle.”

-Tornado Hunter Chris Chittick

Chris and the Tornado Hunters have named their F-150 “Flash,” and they rely on their truck to not only get out of danger, but also to get ahead of it to warn people. Chris has seen over 400 tornados since he started chasing and capturing storm footage in 1998, but not once has he taken safety for granted. And with the toughness of an F-150, he can focus on getting footage without having to worry if the truck can withstand the rigours of tornado hunting.


Brad Keselowski and Ford win first 2014 NASCAR Chase race

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

Brad Keselowski and Ford win first 2014 NASCAR Chase race

Brad Keselowski won the first Chase race of the season on Sunday.PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC


For Brad Keselowski, this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup started the same way it did in 2012 — with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway.

Clearly, Keselowski would love to see the Chase end the same way it did two years ago — with a series championship.

Needing an extra pit stop to tighten a loose wheel under caution on lap 183 of 267 in Sunday’s 400 at the 1.5-mile track, Keselowski restarted 16th on lap 187, mired in traffic behind a gaggle of lapped cars.

But with a determined charge through the field and a couple of opportune cautions in the final 35 laps, Keselowski regained lost track position and put himself in position to make a dramatic race-winning move after a restart on lap 250.

With third-place finisher Kyle Larson battling Kevin Harvick for the lead on lap 252, Keselowski powered between the two cars off turn two and grabbed the lead.

“I just saw a hole, and I went for it,” Keselowski said.

He held the top spot for a restart on lap 262, after an accident involving the cars of Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and pulled away to win his fifth race of the year and the 15th of his career by 1.759 seconds over Jeff Gordon, who passed Larson for the second spot in the closing laps.

Joey Logano ran fourth and Harvick fifth, as Chase drivers took eight of the top 10 finishing positions.

With his second victory at Chicagoland, Keselowski ensured he would advance to the next round of the Chase under a new format that features a trio of three-race elimination rounds and a final race at Homestead to settle the championship between the last four eligible drivers.

With the starting order set according to speeds in opening Sprint Cup practice because of a qualifying rainout, Keselowski started 25th and worked his way to the front, only to fall back again when he brought the No. 2 Team Penske Ford to pit road to have the loose wheel tightened.

“I’m not really sure what to say,” said Keselowski, who can race for the next two weeks without fear of falling out of the Chase. “I don’t really know what happened. I just know we got to the lead. There was traffic and I was just digging and in the zone. The recorder was turned off, so I don’t remember what happened.

“I had my head down doing all I could do. We had a great Miller Lite Ford Fusion that I knew from the start would be good, but, man, it was really awesome the last few runs. We really dialed it in and the 2 crew did an excellent job. What a day! Man, I am still pumped!”

Larson, driving a backup car after a brush with the outside wall in Saturday morning practice, appeared headed for the first victory of his fledgling Cup career, before Carl Edwards’ cut tire brought out the fourth caution on lap 231. That yellow, which interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops, leap-frogged Keselowski to the fourth spot for a restart on lap 238.

Seven laps later, caution for Clint Bowyer’s contact with the turn one wall set up Keselowski’s opportunity to make the winning move.

“Man, I was so close,” a rueful Larson said of his lost opportunity. “I didn’t need that caution there. I was just cruising out front, and then we got that yellow, and I had to battle Harvick really hard then. That allowed Brad to get by both of us. It really ended our shot at a win there. We had one more shot there at the last restart, but just didn’t have enough for Brad.

“He was really good around the bottom. He was about the only car that I thought could get around the bottom all race long. I had a lot of fun gripping the wall. I ran inches off of it the whole race and finally got into it there battling Jeff. Man, for a backup car, that was amazing… I just hate it that we came up short.”

If Larson had speed, Chase drivers Carl Edwards, AJ Allmendinger and Greg Biffle did not. None of the three drivers was quick enough to stay on the lead lap, and with respective finishes of 20th, 22nd and 23rd, all are in jeopardy of elimination after the third race of the Chase at Dover.

The real casualty of Sunday’s race, however, was Aric Almirola, who was running sixth just before the engine in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford failed as he was coming to pit road for a green-flag stop on Lap 231.

Almirola finished 41st and is in grave danger of missing the cut.


               1. (25) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267, $364473.
               2. (8) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 267, $263641.
               3. (10) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 267, $219750.
               4. (28) Joey Logano, Ford, 267, $182346.
               5. (12) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 267, $180538.
               6. (24) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267, $131045.
               7. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267, $172611.
               8. (14) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 267, $114070.
               9. (11) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 267, $144284.
               10. (5) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 267, $155681.
               11. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 267, $116685.
               12. (7) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267, $156721.
               13. (19) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 267, $120685.
               14. (27) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 267, $132818.
               15. (2) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 267, $113510.
               16. (15) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 267, $148046.
               17. (4) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 267, $139135.
               18. (22) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 267, $136268.
               19. (18) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 267, $109310.
               20. (3) Carl Edwards, Ford, 266, $117110.
               21. (9) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 266, $127224.
               22. (17) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 265, $117468.
               23. (20) Greg Biffle, Ford, 265, $139660.
               24. (16) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 265, $130060.
               25. (21) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 265, $124230.
               26. (29) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 264, $120718.
               27. (26) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, 264, $118018.
               28. (38) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 263, $95160.
               29. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 262, $106518.
               30. (33) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, 262, $96110.
               31. (39) David Ragan, Ford, 262, $111457.
               32. (32) Michael McDowell, Ford, 262, $91210.
               33. (34) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 262, $91010.
               34. (30) David Gilliland, Ford, 261, $98810.
               35. (37) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 261, $90575.
               36. (41) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 258, $98385.
               37. (43) Joey Gase(i), Ford, 257, $90156.
               38. (42) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 256, $84465.
               39. (6) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, Accident, 244, $115456.
               40. (35) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, 233, $76465.
               41. (23) Aric Almirola, Ford, Engine, 230, $109401.
               42. (31) Ryan Truex #, Toyota, Brakes, 184, $68465.
               43. (40) Mike Bliss(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 13, $64965.

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Ford’s amazing new tech: Park your car from outside the car


Ford can now park cars in spaces so tight you couldn’t get out of the door even if you could get the car in the space. The Fully Assisted Parking Aid for backing into perpendicular and angled parking spaces was demonstrated this week in Belgium, along with Obstacle Avoidance technology that deals with slow cars and slower pedestrians in front of you, by braking or steering around them.

Others have demonstrated these technologies before and even shipped some of thetech — particularly the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and E-Class sedans — but with Ford in the game, these technologies are likely to be affordable as well as available.

Push-button parking

The Full Assisted Parking Aid (FAPA?) is a follow-on to Ford’s Active Parking Assist (also FAPA?) for automated parallel parking, done with the driver in the car. As with APA, FAPA uses ultrasonic sensors to scan for an open parking space at speeds as high as 19 mph (30 kph). When the car finds a suitable spot it alerts the driver, who can stay in the car or get out and use a remote to finish the parking job. The car then backs itself in to the parking space.

The car would automatically switch gears, accelerate, steer, and brake. The driver’s function is to keep his or her finger on the button during the maneuver. It wasn’t clear if the car can also park head-first; some communities in the US require head-in parking.

Cars have gotten 16% wider, on average, in the past 25 years, Ford says. Also, people buy bigger cars as they move on in life. Typical parking spaces are 7.5-9.0 feet wide in the US (the typical garage door is 8.0 feet wide). So it’s not just your imagination: it is harder to park your current Dodge Durango than the rust-streaked Toyota Corolla you had just after college. Fully assisted parking also would benefit people with big cars in old houses with tiny garages. That’s especially important in Europe and Asia. Even in the US, the garage may be big inside but a car with its mirrors extended may have less than five inches of clearance on either side of the garage door frame.

Obstacle Avoidance

The other technology unveiled by Ford is Obstacle Avoidance. Sensors direct the steering and brakes to avoid hitting cars and people that are stopped or slowed in the lane ahead. The system first warns the driver with a chime (if there’s time) and if there’s no response from the driver, it assumes control momentarily, scans the roadway for gaps to the left or right of the hazard, and either brakes or moves the car to the side. Ford says a third of drivers who sense a rear-end collision coming don’t take evasive action.


Obstacle Avoidance uses multiple sensors: three radar units, ultrasonic sensors, and a camera to scan as far out as 660 feet (200 meters, or three football fields). Ford’s projectwas part of a European research project comprising 29 groups, called Accident Avoidance by Active Intervention of Intelligent Vehicles.

Ford already has some other forms of active safety including Active City Stop — what others called city safety — to scan the road and prevent low-speed collisions. Ford also has Lane Keeping Aid (lane departure warning or lane keep assist) to steer the car back into lane if the driver drifts off. A half-dozen automakers offer semi-automated parallel parking, including Audi, BMW, Ford, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volvo, Ford, Kia, and Volkswagen. Outside the US, Volkswagen offers perpendicular self-parking and others have shown prototypes. Virtually any automaker could do automated parallel parking since the underlying components can be sourced from third parties.

Ford didn’t say how soon the two technologies will come to market. We estimate it would be within the year. Ford sees itself as the leader in democratizing technology, or bringing technologies down in price so almost everyone can afford them. Active Parking Assist, for instance, is already on cars as small as the compact Ford Focus.