racing at Sebring in 2003.
Photo: Pete Lyons / www.petelyons.com
We start the new season with two interesting notes on the subject of pulchritude.
Near the end of January, Lorna and I spent most of a weekend planted squarely before the Flat Screen, surprised by how much we were enjoying Speed’s marathon coverage of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Surprised, because neither of us have ever been fans of Grand Am’s Daytona Prototypes. We do watch parts of some of the races, and in truth the action is often terrific. But in their earlier generations, their burden of blunt restrictions made DP coupes so toad-ugly I found them impossible to love. In fact, seeing them mangled by their frequent collisions has never pained me at all.
I feel otherwise about DP Gen III. New this year, they have smaller greenhouses and certain other bodywork parameters that add up to much better looks. My eyes actually feasted on them, and when one suffered tail damage my heart felt sorrow.
Handsomest car of the race for me was “Red Dragon,” a Chevy-powered machine whose gorgeously scarlet body presented explicit Corvette styling cues. As a one-time owner of a Stingray (of the same color), I’m now daydreaming about a streetgoing version of the new Corvette DP.
Just about the same time Grand-Am was racing, European teams began showing the first of this year’s Formula 1 cars. What a shock! Nearly every one has a “stepped nose,” where the needle-slim nosecone seems to jut out from the face like a long-beaked echidna’s, that weird little bug-eater from New Guinea.
It’s all because of new rules restricting nosecone height, apparently because the higher that rides, the better the afterbody airflow. Can’t have that.
One more reason I find it ever harder to take F1 seriously.
As I write, the one car announced so far without the bug-eater schnoz is the new McLaren. How did this team avoid that? According to one Internet explanation, it’s because McLaren has been designing the top line of its forward fuselage a couple of inches lower than other cars all along (I must admit I never noticed), so the 2012 nosecone blends in smoothly without the “step.”
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