New Format MPG Track Days Off To A Good Start
‘14TrackDays_076 - Albert Wong - 640px.jpg Motorsports Journal/Performance & Racing Tech Talk managing editor Edmund Jenks takes the first drive of the day at Big Willow in the new 5th generation Dodge VIPER T/A production two-seater super car. The Yorange 2015 Viper has not been outfitted with the SRT performance division’s 707-horsepower Hellcat engine (which was available in a lime green Charger and also driven at Big Willow) but its 8.4-liter V-10 engine is now rated at 645 horsepower, up 5 horses on the previous model year. Torque remains unchanged at 600 ft.-pounds. Production of this particular model in specialized colors (Competition Blue, Yorange, and Venom Black) will be limited to 96 units. Image Credit: Albert Wong
New Format MPG Track Days Off To A Good Start
The Motor Press Guild (MPG), the largest automotive media association in North America, re-launched its annual Track Days media event with an all-new program this week on Oct. 14-15 at the Hilton Pasadena, the Rose Bowl, and Willow Springs International Speedway.
Pulling in elements from business retreats and professional conferences, the re-imagined MPG Track Days program included a discussion panel led by A-list media, presentations from industry executives and exclusive test drives of more than 50 new cars, trucks and SUVs on public roads, closed courses and an historic raceway.
Chris Kersting, CEO of SEMA, the trade association representing the $33B automotive aftermarket industry, shared his insights on the latest parts and accessory trends ahead of the SEMA Show. The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show, scheduled for November 4-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and plays host to more than 130,000 attendees and is where the industry comes to do business. For the first time in the Show’s nearly 50-year history, the general public will be invited to partake in the action at a separate event called SEMA Ignited after the Show closes.
IMG_6431.JPGMPG Track Days “Secrets of Success in Automotive Journalism” panel shared many strongly held opinions in a lively and open, back and forth, forum. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)
MPG Track Days’ professional media panel this year, entitled “Secrets of Success in Automotive Journalism,” was moderated by Sue Callaway, editor-in-chief of THE AUTO 100 and senior contributing editor at Fortune magazine. Callaway and the panel shared insights on what it takes to be an influential journalist in today’s complex media world. Panelists included “BJ” Chris Woodyard, auto industry reporter at USA Today; “The Retiring” Mark Vaughn, west coast editor at Autoweek; “Just a grateful blogger” Michael Harley, west coast editor at Autoblog.com; “From radio to video” Micah Muzio, managing editor for video, Kelley Blue Book; and “Managing Motormouth” Michelle Naranjo, editor-in-chief at Autobytel.com. A second panel discussed the role of technology in the auto industry, from design to driving.
As in years past, MPG journalist members drove and evaluated vehicles from nearly every automaker in various environments on road, off road and on track. A back-to-back comparison test of compact SUVs and luxury sedans were staged at the historic Rose Bowl, followed by a street drive through scenic Pasadena. On-track drives at Big Willow and Streets of Willow courses were held at the historic Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, CA. An off-road course through the hills overlooking the Raceway hosted a selection of trucks and SUVs, including the incredibly capable 550hp Lingenfelter Chevy Reaper pickup truck.
IMG_6593.JPGThe much anticipated, limited-edition Reaper, a no-nonsense performance off-road edition of the 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup, is now available at select General Motors dealerships nationwide. The heavily customized Chevy Silverado that can be ordered with a supercharged 550hp 6.2L, comes in red, white, gray and black with a long list of standard features: three-inch lift, long-travel off-road suspension; Fox Racing shocks; 20-inch exclusive Reaper wheels mounted on General Grabber LT tires; and a Lingenfelter performance exhaust system. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)
“Our track event has always provided a vital comparative driving experience for professional journalists to evaluate several cars in a short amount of time,” said Joni Gray, MPG president. “This year, we’ve stepped up our program with newsworthy speakers and hands-on instruction to provide our members with even more content to fill the stories, reviews, TV segments and podcasts they create in the automotive media space.”
MPG members were treated to a special ride along in a 2015 Nissan GT-R NISMO - one of only three in the country—with 2011 Nissan GT Academy winner Bryan Heitkotter.
On the evening of Oct. 14, the gala dinner prepared by celebrity executive chef Gina Rodriguez was served. Rodriguez was a contestant on Food Network’s hit show, Chopped. In the morning following the dinner, members were transported between the Hilton Pasadena and Willow Springs on Wi-Fi enabled luxury corporate coaches, which allowed members to network and be productive on the 90 minute ride each way.
MPG Track Days was open to all Motor Press Guild members, but only journalist members were credentialed to drive vehicles.
For information about becoming a member of MPG, please visit http://www.MotorPressGuild.org, or follow us on the MPG Facebook and Twitter pages.
SEMA - Specialty Equipment Market Association
Nissan North America
IMG_6453.JPGSponsor provided street drive cars lined up on the parking lot tarmac at the Southwest front entrance of the Rose Bowl complex. Journalist members had an enjoyable time driving a neighborhood street course that had all cars pass by a California Highway Patrol field office just off of the 210 Freeway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)
Volkswagen of America
Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America
Mercedes-Benz North America
Ford Motor Co.
Subaru of America
Honda North America
BMW North America
Porsche Cars North America
(ht: Doug Stokes - MPG Track Days Committee)
... notes from The EDJE