New York Auto Show Motorsport Preview

New York, NY (April 9, 1998) - The New York International Auto Show opened for two days of press conferences during the media preview held yesterday and today. The show opens to the public on Saturday, April 11th. On opening day, Panoz...

New York, NY (April 9, 1998) - The New York International Auto Show opened for two days of press conferences during the media preview held yesterday and today. The show opens to the public on Saturday, April 11th.

On opening day, Panoz Motor Sports will introduce a unique hybrid-electric vehicle, the Panoz Q9. It will compete in the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Q9 will be campaigned at Le Mans by David Price Racing.

The Q9's powertrain consists of a Ford V8 engine and Zytek electric motor working in tandem. It is the first modern hybrid-electric vehicle to compete at Le Mans, and promises to reset the public's expectations of environmentally responsible automobiles by showing the performance potential of hybrid vehicles. The Q9 will be displayed in front of the Jacob Javits Center on April 11. On April 12, the car will be on the Manhattan Motor Cars stand in the Crystal Palace area. Later that evening, the car will return to Europe for testing.

Several manufacturers, heavily involved with motorsports at last year's show, chose not to use motorsports as a marketing tool this year. Motorsport themes were absent from both the Chevrolet and Dodge areas.

Chevrolet showcased a Monte Carlo concept vehicle based on a NASCAR Winston Cup car. The car sported a NASCAR type front air dam and a small spoiler on the rear deck lid. Although the marque had a Corvette Pace Car for this years 82nd running of the Indianapolis 500 and a few pictures of their NHRA drag racing teams, including Ron Capps' Camaro Funny car, motorsports were noticeably absent from the Chevrolet area.

In the past, Dodge has used their involvement in sport cars racing and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series to highlight their performance vehicles. This year, Dodge has decided to showcase the companies aggressive styling designs with new concept vehicles.

Ford stressed safety issues at last years show and their display was completely void of any motorsports involvement. This year, motorsport is one of the themes at Ford's display. Dale Jarrett's Ford Credit No. 88 Taurus shares the spotlight with a Mustang GT prepared for classes at Bob Bondurant's racing school. Both cars sit under a mural depicting Ford's involvement in F1, with Jackie Stewart's team, and in CART with Newman-Haas.

Many manufacturers are not willing to devote floor space to race cars, preferring instead to show all their latest models. That's no surprise as the show's purpose is to sell cars. Honda found a way around this by erecting a wall and mounting the 1997 CART Championship winning, Ganassi Racing Reynard/Honda/Firestone package twenty feet off the floor. A video wall near the car runs continuous clips from each of the team's victories on last year's CART FedEx Championship trail.

Oldsmobile had two racing machines on display this year. Oldsmobile touted Arie Luyendyk's win in the the 1997 Indianapolis 500 in an Oldsmobile powered car. The Oldsmobile show car has been repainted by the Treadway team to reflect the look of the 1997 winning car. In addition, the engine cover has been partially cut away so fans can enjoy a look at how the Aurora engine is situated in the car, The cut-away also allows a good cross section view of the airbox.

Next to the replica of Arie's winning car is the Oldsmobile Aerotech. The Aerotechs had been retired in 1987 after setting records with the Quad 4 engine with A.J. Foyt aboard. The cars were dusted off, the Quad 4 was replaced by a stock Aurora 4L V8 and forty seven new national and international records were set during nine days in December of 1997. The records included the FIA World Land Speed Record for 10,000 kilometers at 170.761 mph and the FIA World Land Speed Record for 25,000 kilometers at 158.386 mph. Drivers involved in the project included Allen Cline, an engineer from GM's Powertrain Group, Irv Hoerr, Paul Hacker, Tony Ave and Mike Borkowski.

While not in racing trim, motorsport fans will appreciate a chance to view the newly debuted Callaway C12. Based on the C5 Corvette platform, the C12 was built in Germany to FIA GT2 specifications. The car will be homologated as a Callaway. Development as a race car will take place this fall with the shakedown run taking place at the 1999 Daytona 24. The companies goal is to win the 1999 GT2 class title at LeMans with an American based car.

Saturn and BMW each brought an example of their racing machinery. Saturn displayed their Inner City Youth Racing Team Saturn SC2 which which was instrumental in bringing the marque the SCCA World Challenge T2 Manufacturers Championship. BMW had one of Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group M3s which brought BMW a manufacturers championship in Sports Car GT-3 competition, as well as the driving championship to Bill Auberlen.

The New York International Auto Show opens Saturday, April 11th and runs through Sunday, April 19th.

David Reininger - Motorsport News International

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Series General
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Ron Capps , Arie Luyendyk , Tony Ave , Jackie Stewart , Mike Borkowski , David Price , A.J. Foyt