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1966 Batmobile - Auto News and Events

Gearhead News

Photography by Courtesy Of The NHRA

Pontiac GTO Autocross
And the award for the first modified '04 GTO goes to ... GM! Modifications to this Aussie wonder included 18-inch wheels and tires, the camshaft and heads from the Corvette Z06's LS6 V-8 on the 5.7L LS1 V-8 to thump output up to about 400 hp, front and rear fascia extensions, a rear spoiler, and a symmetrical dual exhaust. All the parts and pieces should be available as SPO accessories now that the GTO is on sale.

Toyota Builds a Small-Block
It's no secret that Toyota is running NASCAR Craftsman Truck races this year. But until SEMA it hadn't shown the engine it will use in the series-or in its soon-to-commence assault on the Nextel Cup series.

Toyota's OHV, pushrod racing V-8 displaces the full 358 ci NASCAR allows and looks very Mouse motor-like in many ways. That includes the siamese center exhaust ports in the aluminum cylinder heads, and that this engine can be bolted up to any Chevy small-block bellhousing without further modification.

Toyota's NASCAR engine was designed by their TRD operation in California, but parts for it are made around the world. The block, for instance, is cast by a foundry in Japan. "It's cast there," one TRD engineer told us, "because they do the best castings in the world." The only stock component shown on the engine trimmed for the Craftsman series was a Tundra pickup power steering pump.

Toyota has been testing this engine with an 850-cfm Holley carb, which is the specification for the Nextel Cup series, even though Craftsman trucks are limited to a 390-cfm specification. You can fill in the blanks.

Blatant Sexism
On November 6, 2003, Regis Philbin and former Survivor competitor Elisabeth Hasselbeck (just to Philbin's right-and for some reason not wearing lingerie) hosted a fashion show inside a former New York City bank. The show was to launch a new line of Hanes "intimate apparel."

We knew you wanted to know this.

Indy on the Side
At this year's Indy 500, all the Firestone Firehawk tires on the cars will feature the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's "wing and wheel" official logo beside the Firestone logo.

Now you'll know what to look for after the race when these tires end up on eBay.

Putting the Factory Back in Racing
With Toyota fully committed to running NASCAR's Craftsman Truck series with overt factory support, how should Chevy (and Dodge and Ford for that matter) react? Well, Chevy will be there with factory trucks itself.

During 2004, the #46 Silverado prepared by Morgan-Dollar Motorsports and driven by Dennis Setzer will carry "Silverado" as its primary sponsor. Beyond that, the #16 Xpress Motorsports Silverado driven by Jack Sprague in the series will be sponsored by "Chevy Trucks." These become the first vehicles to campaign in NASCAR with sponsorship from a GM vehicle line since ... well, since ever. GM's traditional Goodwrench will wind up on a new truck for driver Matt Crafton, and the Spears Motorsports #75 will also get substantial support-but neither will feature vehicle-line sponsorship.

"Chevrolet is committed to NASCAR and the Craftsman Truck series for the long term," said Jim Campbell, marketing director for Chevy Racing in a press release. "We know from our research that racing fans are extremely loyal and passionate in their support of racing, and we want to reinforce our commitment to making the Chevy Silverado the 'Right Truck' for their needs. The Craftsman Truck series continues to provide us with a strong platform for making that connection of dependability and performance between Silverado, Chevy trucks and consumers."

With Toyota headed to Nextel Cup by probably 2006, the pressure on traditional Detroit makers to increase their support will only increase. Who knows what this could lead to?

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