Vintage & Classics

October hot rod races to once again pit vintage cars against sandy South Wales

This 1929 Ford Model A is driven by Matt Ferrant on the beach ahead of the annual London Concours and Pendine Sands Hot Rod Races.

Photo by James Mitchell

With track racing all by halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pendine Sands Hot Rod Races October 3-4 dates on the calendar are something unique to look forward to.

The event sits squarely at the intersection of vintage vehicles and speed. On Pendine Sands, it's about hitting top speed rather than a short sprint.

At the event over 150 pre-1949 modified American cars meet on the beach to compete for class records and entry to the 100 mph club. One participant will be crowned "King of the Beach".

Malcolm Campbell Pendine Sands Crowds surrounding Sir Malcolm Campbell (1885 - 1948) on July 21, 1925 in his Sunbeam after he had broken the world record for the mile and kilometer at a speed of 150.368 mph on Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire. Photo by Getty Images

TheSands have a rich history when it comes to auto racing. The seven miles of shoreline that meets Carmarthen Bay in Southern Wales served as the host of the annual Welsh TT motorcycle event starting in 1922. Its firm, flat surface was considered straighter and smoother than most any major road at the time, making it an ideal setting for car racing.

Malcom Campbell, a British speed racing enthusiast, set the world land speed record of 146.16 mpg on the beach in his Sunbeam 350HP car nicknamed Blue Bird in 1924. That car now sits in the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire, England. Campbell would go on to set nine records through 1934 culminating in a run at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, which saw him become the first person to surpass 300 mph in a car.

The Vintage Hot Rod Association (VHRA) brought speed back to the sands starting in 2013 with their annual Hot Rod Races. Ahead of the races, several of the models will be shown off at the London Concours, slated for August 19-20, 2020.

According to a release, Matt Farrant, the three-time King of the Beach will be bringing his 1929 Ford Model A Roadster pick-up to display. The car is an early 1960s style street roadster. His goal is to run a 12-second quarter mile on a dragstrip. He's already clocked 119 mph on the sand. Despite being race-ready, the car serves valiantly during the year as a daily driver, often taking Farrant and his family on road trips.

Rebecca Dunn 1930 Ford Model A Rebecca Dunn has piloted this 1930 Ford Model A on the sand.Photo by James Mitchell

Rebecca Dunn, will bring her 1930 Ford Model A Coupe to the London Concours. The Model A is a mishmash of brands underneath. It has a Desoto Hemi 330 cu-in engine at its heart with Lincoln brakes, Buick finned drums, and other parts from Ford and Plymouth. According to a release, "On the sand, there are only two women who have managed to break the 100 mph barrier in their own cars and Rebecca is one of them."

Chris Rawlins has a 1932 Ford Streamliner that takes its styling cues from 1940s-era California dry lakes modified hot rods. It gets its power from a Ford Flathead V8 and has a Ford gearbox and rear axle. It features a modified canopy from a WW2 T6 Texan aircraft. For a number of years, Rawlins has pushed the limits of his hot rod, entering the 100 mph club and securing a number of class wins.

Tickets for the London Concours are now available and start at £40. The Pendine Sands Hot Rod Races are free to spectators.

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Red light camera usage in the U.S. has declined over the last few years.

Photo by Mathieukor/Getty Images

New research shows that communities across the U.S. are not using as many red light cameras as they used to while implementation of speed detection cameras is increasing. Both have been shows to reduce the occurrence of automobile crashes.

A new checklist devised by AAA, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Safety Council (NSC) was designed to serve as a roadmap for communities that are establishing or expanding automated enforcement programs and to dispel myths surrounding the use of the cameras.

"Research by IIHS and others has shown consistently that automated enforcement curbs dangerous driving behaviors and reduces crashes," says IIHS President David Harkey. "We hope this document developed with our highway safety partners will help communities take full advantage of this tool."

From 2011 to 2014 more than 500 communities across the U.S. operated red light cameras. Today that number stands at 340. The systems are costly. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated the cost as $67,000 to $80,000 per intersection. That number doesn't include the manpower hours, ticket mailing fees, court costs, or maintenance time and money associated with the ticketing. Today, the cost of the system is estimated to be in the $100,000 range per intersection.

Running red lights kills hundreds and injure tens of thousands of people every year, according to IIHS. In 2019, 846 people were killed and an estimated 143,000 were injured in red light running crashes. Most of those killed were pedestrians, bicyclists and people in other vehicles and not the red light runners or passengers riding with them.

"Red light running and speeding are known killers on our roads," says Advocates President Cathy Chase. "Well-designed and implemented automated enforcement programs can deter these hazardous driving behaviors and reduce crash deaths and injuries. They can also provide an equitable, neutral option for upgrading safety. We urge states and localities to use this checklist together with road safety infrastructure improvements to help protect motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users."

Nearly one-quarter of all traffic fatalities in 2020 (9,478 deaths) occurred due to high speed. Crashes that occur at higher speeds tend to have more severe results.

"We know from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's research that more than two people are killed every day on U.S. roads by impatient and reckless drivers blowing through red lights," says Jill Ingrassia, AAA's executive director of advocacy and communications. "Automated enforcement can play a role in a comprehensive strategy to address dangerous driving behaviors and improve traffic safety for all road users. This new set of best practice guidelines is an excellent starting point in helping jurisdictions ensure these programs are well-designed, data-driven, transparent and equitably implemented."

Camera laws vary from state to state. Currently, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia prohibit both red light and speed cameras. Montana and South Dakota disallow red-light cameras, and New Jersey and Wisconsin have outlawed speed cameras.

The checklist features first-, second-, and long-term steps including many common sense action items including:

  • Identifying problem intersections and roadways
  • Make engineering and/or signage changes
  • Establish an advisory committee
  • Identify key stakeholders
  • Utilize safety data to determine camera locations
  • Require regular evaluations
The full checklist is available now at IIHS.org.

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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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