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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The Ferrari 812 Competizione comes in two varieties.

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

A new variant of the Ferrari 812 Superfast has been revealed. The Ferrari 812 Competizione models are a limited edition series of vehicles in two variants, coupe and targa, known as the Ferrari 812 Competizione and the Ferrari 812 Competizione A.

Both models sport a naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V12 engine that achieves 818 horsepower. The power plant is, on the surface, the same that is in the Ferrari 812 Superfast but engineers have tinkered with the fresh version to optimize fluid dynamics of the intake system and combustion, reducing internal friction.

Ferrari has paired the engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that the automaker says delivers a new type of shifting feeling. The setup retains the same gear ratios as the 812 Superfast but has more rpm range. The engine can rev to 9,500 rpm and a progressive growling comes spewing out of the car's exhaust system, which comes complete with a gasoline particulate filter that ensures the car meets modern emissions standards.

Ferrari 812 Competizione & Ferrari 812 Competizione A

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

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A single front air intake works to keep things cool up front marking the first time such an adaptation has occurred on a V12-powered Ferrari. The cooling circuit has also been improved making it 10 percent more efficient and the oil tank has been redesigned to allow for extra flow.

Engineers have given the new Ferraris added braking power. That includes a redesigned version of the caliper that was first used on the SF90 Stradale and other modifications. These changes allowed Ferrari to redesign the car's front underbody freeing up space around the lower front wishbone suspension and extending the area that could be used to generate downforce. The car has a passive mobile aero system.

The backside of the new variants has a unique design with a fresh exhaust layout, diffuser geometry, spoiler volume, patented rear screen, and bumper design. The rear diffuser now extends across the full width of the car and redesigned silencers and tailpipes that are integrated into a single pipe.

Four-wheel steering and independent rear-wheel steering features a new electronic management system. Refinements have been made to the car's response system to deliver a more connected drive experience. It features a new iteration of Ferrari's Side Slip Control system and rides on new Michelin Cup2R tires.

Weight savings abounds throughout the car and though much of it isn't apparent to the untrained eye, it helps the performance of the car. This includes the dashboard and door panels. The door panel pocket juts out from the main structure almost as if it were a floating element.

The 812 Competizione A features a number of modifications that differentiate it from the 812 Competizione including the implementation of a flying buttress design that helps the car's center of gravity to appear lower that the coupe's. When the targa top is stowed, the roll bars jut out becoming a secondary visual element.

Each of the cars comes standard with Ferrari's extended seven-year maintenance program.

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BMW's newest works are equal parts art and car.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has revealed "The Ultimate AI Masterpiece", an exploration of automobiles at the intersection of art in conjunction with Frieze New York 2021, as well as the 50th anniversary of BMW Group Cultural Engagement. The virtual art installation is supported by videos of the exhibit's creation process on YouTube and Instagram.

The installment is the brain child of creative technologist Nathan Shipley of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and Gary Yeh, art connoisseur/founder of artDrunk. The duo used the NVIDIA StyleGAN artificial intelligence model to "cross-reference over 50,000 images of artwork spanning 900 years of history and a curated set of 50 works from renowned and emerging contemporary artists BMW has worked with over the past 50 years", according to a release.

Frieze New York 2021: "The Ultimate AI Masterpiece"

Photo courtesy of BMW

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The artificial intelligence then used those pieces to create entirely new art, merging classical art with the work of contemporary artists. These new works have been projection-mapped onto a virtual rendition of BMW's flagship 8 Series Gran Coupe.

"For 50 years, BMW has supported the arts and culture through numerous initiatives as a way engage and interact with consumers around the world in an authentic way," said Uwe Dreher, vice president of marketing, BMW of North America. "As we continue these efforts into 2021, and look for new and creative ways to engage audiences, we shift to a virtual setting where we are combining centuries-old art and the latest AI technology to create something completely new and exciting."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shipley and Yeh collaborated digitally from their homes in San Francisco and Seoul for the project.

"During an unusually isolated time in history, we took the opportunity to curate and work with artists from around the world as a means to give viewers a true art experience digitally," said Gary Yeh, art collector and founder of ArtDrunk. It was particularly exciting to push the boundaries of art, see how technology may influence the art world in the years to come, and build on 50 years of cultural engagement at BMW."

Frieze New York is currently in its 10th edition and taking place at The Shed in Manhattan through May 9. The venue is new and features an event reimagined for its new location, bringing together over 60 major galleries. A dedicated edition of Frieze Viewing Room will run parallel to the fair, through May 14, and will feature an expanded list of over 160 exhibitors.

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