NASCAR

7 things you didn't know about the Talladega NASCAR race's Vulcan Trophy

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Sylvania Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Vulcan Trophy is presented to the winner of each of NASCAR's top-tier Cup Series races - one in the spring, one in the autumn. Television broadcasts usually show the trophy a few times throughout the race, then when the champion is in the winner's circle in Victory Lane. It's worth taking a closer look at.

The trophy is more than two-and-a-half times taller than a bowling pin.

The Vulcan Trophy stands 38 inches tall(26 inches Vulcan, 13 inches base), but it's not the biggest of the NASCAR trophies. The Harley J. Earl Trophy, which is given the winner of the Daytona 500, is four feet tall and five feet wide.

It's also heavy, weighing in at 130 pounds.

Kyle Larson Las Vegas Speedway 2021

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 07, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

The Vulcan Trophy weighs just about as much as NASCAR driver Kyle Larson, who is listed on Wikipedia as being 135 pounds.

The Vulcan on the trophy is holding three items with ties to mining history. 

Birmingham was founded in 19871 and is unique because its land contains coal, iron ore, and limestone - the raw materials for making iron and steel. This is the inspiration for the items the Vulcan is holding.

According to NASCAR, "His hammer and anvil that he used in his forge (shop where metal is heated and hammered into useful items) and the spear, which is a piece of his completed work that he held high and admired. For the winners of Saturday's doubleheader – the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series and the Ag-Pro 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, they will receive the smaller Hammer & Anvil Trophy."

The trophy is a miniature version of a famous statue.

Vulcan Statue Birmingham

Elevated view of the Vulcan Statue, Birmingham, Alabama, 1970s. The statue portrays Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, and is the world's largest cast metal statue.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Just 45 minutes west of Talladega Superspeedway is the City of Birmingham, Alabama. At the Vulcan Park Museum there, atop Red Mountain, a 56-foot tall Vulcan statue is fastened to a 124-foot platform. It's the largest cast-iron statue in the world. Vulcan pays homage to the God of Fire in Ancient Roman mythology. It has stood overlooking the city since the 1930s.

The trophy is crafted by hand.

The trophy is handcrafted by artists from Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama. Sloss Furnaces was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world now it's a National Historic Landmark.

To construct the trophy, sculptors start with an original wax pattern. A rubber mold is designed and molded in sand. Hot, melted iron is poured into the mold. After it cools, the iron pieces are removed from the sand mold.

Those pieces are then finished, a process that includes torches removing moisture from the iron. A was finish and clear coat is applied before a final brush up.

The Vulcan Trophy only goes back to 2016.

Team Penske driver Joey Logano was the inaugural recipient of the Vulcan Trophy after he won at the superspeedway in 2016. "I was pumped to be the first driver to win one," Logano said. "Trophies are one of the best parts of what we do, and some of them are just cooler and more special because of what they are. Talladega Superspeedway nailed it when they had the Vulcan Trophy made."

The speedway's history with the Vulcan goes back farther.

In 1969, one month after the running of the first NASCAR Cup Series race at the 2.66-mile speedway, the ARCA series took to the track in the Vulcan 500, a race named after the famous statue.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTSMy SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTSThe pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTSI'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE appThe WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

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