In the Driver's Seat

Houstonians rev engines and fulfill fantasies at private racetrack

Dozens of exotic cards were on hand for the party.

Photo courtesy of Motor Speedway Resort

An enthusiastic crowd packed Life HTX event center on February 20 to celebrate a new era for Motor Speedway Resort (MSR), the 383-acre private racetrack for motor enthusiasts.

Ever wanted to drive a car with no speed limit, or find a safe, secure garage for your exotic vehicle? How about just have a second-home escape where you can connect with other motor enthusiasts? MSR, located 35 minutes from downtown Houston, is a rare personal playground that combines fantasy, freedom, and play.

At the event, the buzz was palpable. Developers Fabio Covarrubias and Gabriel Haddad announced an exciting new vision to add luxury garage villas, car showrooms, a new health spa, and high-end garages.

Guests browsed dozens of exotic cars, including the only Tramontana supercar in America. Also featured were several Ducati bikes, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and more. Master of ceremonies John Granato, a radio show host on ESPN 97.5FM, fired up guests with a description and pictures of MSR's exciting future.

"For over 14 years, MSR has been a James Bond fantasyland, uniting motorsport enthusiasts," he said. "It was created as a place where you can drive as fast as you want, laws — and common sense — be damned. It's an exciting destination to bring your dream car for a spin."

And the new plans stirred the fervor. The development includes 800 luxury garages, 10 showrooms, and 245 single-family lots. Granato announced that the first showroom "will be signed today by Carlos Lascale from V1 Moto Ducati."

And motor enthusiasts need not leave their families behind, as the plans will include a state-of-the-art spa with a beautiful pool, workout center, and health treatments.

MSR is a dream for motorists of all types. The track welcomes amateurs who race for fun, professionals who use the track for training, collectors who like a place to show off their cars, and families that can use the facilities to practice and play together.

Just as we know many communities built around golf courses, MSR will become the ultimate community for motor enthusiasts.

Motor Speedway Resort

Motor Speedway Resort

Rendering courtesy of Motor Speedway Resort

The showrooms will have all the bells and whistles.

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Get the whole family involved.

Photo by Imgorthand/Getty

Spring is here, so that means it's time to think about doing some spring cleaning on your vehicle. In between the vacuuming and window polishing, you may forget about one very important step: Your paint job needs a good coat of wax every six months to protect the paint and the clear coat.

You see, when they paint your vehicle, the last coat they put on is called the clear coat. It's paint without a pigment, and it's what gives your paint job that multi-dimensional look while also protecting it.

So unless you want to end up having your clear coat turn chalky and look terrible — and we've all seen that — you need to protect it with a good wax job.

To do it right, you want to wax your car by hand and use the best wax you can find. Take advantage of having everyone at home right now and make it a family event.

Just remember, if you don't see the water bead up on the paint, it's time to wax.

For more tips from Mike, visit Be sure to subscribe to the new Let's Talk Wheels podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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Beware of tracking to the left or right.

Photo by darekm101/Getty

On his show "Let's Talk Wheels," Mike Herzing answers questions from listeners who write in. While their specific situation might not match yours exactly, there's still plenty to be learned from their experiences — and his expertise.

Shawna writes: I can't afford a new SUV, but my old one is on its last legs. I heard you talk about lease returns being much cheaper. But aren't lease or rental cars trashed? I don't want something that has led a hard life. Do some cars hold their value more than others?

Mike Herzing: That's a great question. It's common knowledge that a vehicle loses value as soon as you drive it home from the dealership. Most vehicles lose 10-15 percent of their value the first year, and 10 percent (on average) each year thereafter. So if you buy a vehicle coming off of a lease, much of that depreciation has been paid. Also, most lease return vehicles are two to three years old and usually have less than 36,000 miles. That means that they should be covered by the original factory warranty and may be eligible for a certified pre-owned (CPO). warranty, which provides the best coverage for the best value.

There are several vehicles that are known to have higher than normal residual value, and two are the Jeep Wrangler and the Toyota Tacoma. Sometimes it is a better value to buy them new and drive them for several years. In my opinion, the best value is to buy a good vehicle and keep it as long as you can.

Landon writes: I have a 2016 BMW that seems to want to track to the right. The tires have been balanced and computer aligned twice. The car has 54,000 miles, and the tires only have 3,000 miles on them. What else could it be?

MH: Sometimes a tire (or tires) can experience what is called a "radial tire pull." This is a manufacturing defect that isn't apparent until driving on it. Have your shop switch the tires from right to left and see if the pull changes directions. If it does then have them perform a road force variation (RFV) test to see which tire is the problem.

Johnathan writes: I am looking at buying a truck with only 21,000 miles. The seller says that the truck has been salvaged and rebuilt. Is that why it seems like a great deal? I am assuming it is the hail damage on the entire truck that caused it — it has little dents all over it. What are the problems with buying a rebuilt truck? And what is the difference between a salvage car and a rebuilt car?

MH: What you have found is a vehicle that has been previously damaged to a point that the insurance company has declared it a total loss. The seller you found most likely purchased it at auction with a salvage title. After repairs are made, the owner or dealership must have the car inspected by the state and show proof that repairs were done before a rebuilt title can be issued. Was the hail damage the only problem? You never really know. Also, because of liability, many insurance companies will not fully insure a rebuilt vehicle. Yes, the price will be considerably lower than a non-rebuilt vehicle, but is it really worth it?

For more tips from Mike, visit Be sure to subscribe to the new "Let's Talk Wheels" podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

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