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1966 Batmobile - Auto News and Events

Gearhead News

Photography by Courtesy Of The NHRA

On April 6, 2003, the Hostess Twinkie turned 73 years old. And it's still fresh!

The first car to win a NASCAR race was Jim Roper's '49 Lincoln. It won the very first NASCAR race, 200 laps of a 31/44-mile dirt track in Charlotte, North Carolina, on June 19, 1949.

The '64 GTO used by GM on the runway of its second annual pre-Oscar fashion show in Hollywood was driven by Car Craft staffers across the country in the late-'80s "Americruise" feature. Surprisingly, they were dressed exactly how singer Jewel and actor Michael Chiklis are in this photo-even though there were no female writers on staff at the time.

The second car to win a NASCAR race was Red Byron's '49 Oldsmobile in a 166-mile race on the sand at Daytona Beach, Florida. Byron won two of the eight races held that year and took the first NASCAR championship.

Buick introduced its first "Century" in 1936, making it the oldest nameplate currently in use on a U.S. market vehicle. However, the Century name was not used from 1943 through 1953 or from 1959 through 1972.

An L.A. Kind of Thing

Ford has been testing prototypes for its upcoming GT throughout Southern California and haven't been shy about it at all. In these photos supplied by Ford, the GT is speed testing on the dry bed of the L.A. River (famous from Grease, Gumball Rally, Terminator 2 and at least one good episode of Starsky & Hutch). It's been pounding down the freeways evaluating everything from sound levels to brake squeal to the ability to not overheat on the way to the airport, while making sure it runs good on the weird civilian gas they sell out here on the left side of the country. It's all really cool.

The black car in the photos is actually, from what we can surmise, the second GT prototype. The first test mule was finished in red paint with a big numeral "1" on the sides and is rumored to be testing in Michigan. Interestingly, the EPA fuel mileage loop is based on a route that runs directly in front of CC's palatial offices, and prototypes pass by regularly. We have yet to see the GT on Wilshire Boulevard however.

An SSR in Indianapolis
In May, a truck paced the Indianapolis 500 for the first time. Sure it wasn't a "real" truck towing a load of roofing tar, but the Chevy SSR does in fact have a bed.

The actual pace vehicle for the 500 looks just like one of 25 Signature Series models that are starting the SSR's production run, but it is actually a preproduction example that is now on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. The back-up vehicle was actually number four of the Signature Series run and will eventually be auctioned off. A third pace-looking SSR (again, not an actual Signature Series SSR) was put on display at the museum in May.

Little was done to the SSRs to make them ready for pace duty. Each got some neat ghost flames on its nose, safety strobe lights were sunk into the tailgate, the aluminum wheels were polished, the suspension was slightly stiffened, oil and transmission coolers were added, and a low-restriction exhaust was bolted up. Left alone was the 290hp aluminum-block 5.3L Vortec 5300 OHV V-8 and the four-speed automatic transmission behind it.

GM racing honcho Herb Fishel did the driving in celebration of his 40 years promoting the sport within GM. By the way, this is the 14th time a Chevy has paced the Indy 500. It's also the sixth Chevy two-seater to pace the race-five Corvettes proceeded it.

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