On a Mission

WITH WEATHER BECOMING more and more violent, we can count ourselves lucky that we live in Ontario. We aren’t prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, tidal waves or any of the other extreme forms of destruction. Sure, we may have an ice storm or a real hot or cold snap from time to time, but we have the equipment and experience to deal with it. This isn’t just random weather talk. Now that Hurricane Ida has wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast and half submerged the eastern seaboard, something car-related is going to happen. For those who are interested in track-only cars, there will soon be a cornucopia of wet Porsches appearing at insurance auctions everywhere. Happy hunting!

As often happens, marketing gurus at major automobile manufacturers are always looking for ways to hype their product’s abilities to the motoring public. One of these campaigns ended up with Ford on the wrong end of a class action lawsuit over its claims for the Mustang GT350. While the base and “technology” versions of the car had a respectable 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, they were not the “track weapons” that Ford claimed them to be. In fact Ford had removed many of the expensive coolers to make the car more profitable. The result was the car heating up and going into limp mode in as little as 15 minutes of spirited driving. From weapon to obstacle in less time than a DE run group.

The owners of those cars are not only frustrated that Ford deleted the very parts that the cars needed to work, but the inability to use it for its stated purpose means the car’s value is substantially less at resale. Like I’ve said many times in the past, cooling is the most important part of building a track car.

Speaking of track cars, I hope everyone has had the opportunity to see the introduction videos of Porsche’s Mission R concept. This prototype of a future all-electric racecar is highlighted in some introductory videos that have some of the best production standards I’ve ever seen. While this concept is clearly designed to keep Porsche in the forefront of future electric racing cars, it has some impressive stats. Its 80-kilowatt battery gives it 670 horsepower in regular use and a boost to 1,000 horsepower in qualifying mode. While it can be charged in 15 minutes, it still only has full power delivery for 30 minutes.

I always picture electric cars in some futuristic body work that I can’t enjoy, but Porsche clearly took the general image of the Taycan and molded the Mission R to look like a Porsche. It also found a way to end “derailing,” which is the gradual degradation of battery power as the vehicle uses its charge. Unlike older drills that gradually grow weaker until they stop, this battery system still delivers full power until it needs charging. Another benefit to being driven by two electric motors is that they provide all-wheel drive without the extra weight associated with extended drive lines. It definitely looks like the 300-KPH car that it is.

I know I sometimes get carried away with my technology rants. Like an old guy yelling at everyone to get off his lawn, I have a distrust of many of the gadgets being foisted on an unsuspecting public. I’m aware that the people who dream up these gadgets are really just looking for a way to attract our business and not necessarily to track our lives. Let’s face it, I’m not that interesting. The flip side of their disinterest in my day-to-day life is the collection of my information that just sits there waiting for someone who may be interested. Let me clarify.

Compared to your iPhone, your newer car is a supercomputer. It contains a host of sensors that record thousands of things you’ve done and said and stores them in very unsecure formats.

If you decide to sell an older iPhone or give it to a relative, what do you do before you turn it over to them? I think most people wipe all the information in it and reset it to factory specs, so the new owner can pay for their own apps, install their own info and add their own contacts. What about your used car? Compared to your iPhone, your newer car is a supercomputer. It contains a host of sensors that record thousands of things you’ve done and said and stores them in very unsecure formats. Your car knows when you open and close the doors, the seat sensors know how much you weigh, and your GPS knows where you live and whom you visit. The more high-tech your entertainment system is in your car, the more it knows about you. It knows everything from the sound of your voice and what kind of food and music you like, to your birthdate, anniversary and possibly your banking information if you use the Bluetooth connection. It knows how fast you drive, it records your rolling stops, and saves your text messages and E-mails. This is only a small sampling of the information a new car retains.

What do you do with all that information? You give it to the dealer to put on its used-car lot or hand it off to a private buyer who takes your last three or four year’s history home with them. With identity theft being one of the quickest growing criminal enterprises in society, our cars offer an unprecedented window into our daily lives and a treasure trove of information. It’s all being left there waiting for someone to come along and exploit it. Remember, you aren’t being paranoid if everyone is really out to get you.

Just like your used iPhone, your car needs to have its infotainment memory wiped clean when you sell or trade it in. That also should apply to rental cars every time they change hands. Everything is collecting information these days, but no one is protecting it.

October is the last event of the 2021 season, so I hope you will all join us at the track for some fun! </>

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