The Definitive Top 50 Gearhead Holiday Gifts of 2012
‘Tis the season once again, party peeps. And no matter which holiday you choose to celebrate – Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, Enrique the Magic Crawfish’s Birthday (It is too a thing!), etc. – chances are it involves the giving of gifts. This begs not one but two questions: What to get for other people? And what to request from others for oneself?
We hope to provide answers to both of those questions by way of the following gift guide. Hopefully one of these 50 (which means it’s twice as good as last year’s…right?) items will float the metaphorical boat of you or your Secret Santa (or your belief system’s analogue thereof). If not, we suppose cash and/or gift cards will suffice. *cough*You unimaginative heathens.*cough*
Books, DVDs and Games
Having watched it multiple times, we can confirm that Senna isn’t just a great motorsports documentary, or a great documentary, it’s a great movie. This critically-acclaimed-the-world-over film follows the career and life of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Ayrton Senna from his karting days to his death in a crash during the 1994 Grand Prix of San Marino. The storytelling gets a bit one-sided at times, but it’s absolutely a must-have addition to anyone’s video library (be it on DVD or Blu-ray), even if they aren’t the caliber of car or motorsports geek that you are.
TT3D: Closer to the Edge
The Isle of Man TT is probably the most dangerous, brass-ones-only motor race still being run on the planet. The 2011 documentary TT3D: Closer to the Edge does an exemplary job at capturing the history, the speed, the peril, and the human drama of this 105-year-old motorcycle speed contest. However, neither the DVD nor Blu-ray versions are available in Region Code 1 versions, meaning most North American viewers will have to step up for the Blu-ray version and play it on a region-free player. But trust us, it’s worth the hassle.
Black Air: The Buick Grand National Documentary
For four magical model years, the Buick Regal Grand National existed as motordom’s most magnificent mutant, handing many purebred sports cars domestic and foreign their asses in acceleration contests. Now, a quarter-century after the last Grand National was made, filmmaker Andrew Filippone Jr. explores the story behind these turbocharged terrors and the people who love them. It’s available on DVD for $20 exclusively through the movie’s website.
Racing Words: Motorsports Multi-Lingual Dictionary
Ever wonder what the Japanese word for understeer is? Or what your German crew chief is telling you to do when he shouts “Sprit sparen!” over the radio. Wonder no more thanks to this handy book from Michelin. It contains translations for hundreds and hundreds of racing and racing-related terms in American English, British English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese. Available through, among other places, the official Chevrolet Corvette merchandise website, where it’s currently on sale for $45.
Ducati 1098/1198: The Superbike Redefined
We love getting a behind-the-scenes look at the development of a vehicle, as well as receiving insights from the people involved. Ducati 1098/1198: The Superbike Redefined is just such a tome, as author Marc Cook was given unprecedented access to chronicle the development of Ducati’s seminal 848/1098/1198 series. The 176 pages are bursting with interviews of designers, engineers, fabricators and other central figures, as well scores of color photographs. Definitely a must-have for the Ducati owner or fan. Price: $39.95
The 2012 Formula 1 season was absolutely one for the ages, with the most world champions ever in the field (six, or exactly one quarter of the grid), the most races ever (20, including the return of the U.S. Grand Prix at Austin, Texas), and some incredible racing action. Codemasters’ F1 2012 (MSRP $59.99) lets you alter recent motorsports history on PS3, Xbox 360 or PC by placing you in the middle of the action. Perfect for helping you forget that the start of the 2013 season in Melbourne is about three months away.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
The cartoonish kart racing genre has gotten somewhat stale lately, but Sega has injected a whole heap of new life into it with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed for the, Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360 and various mobile platforms. There’s a whole cast of characters from other games and a host of power-ups to slow down your opponents and speed yourself up, but there are two big, related twists: One, the tracks change layout and surface every lap and, two, the karts automatically transform into boats or planes in response. Both transformation angles work remarkably well, making for a super entertaining game.
One of the biggest driving game surprises of 2012 was Forza Horizon, the latest installment in the Xbox-exclusive sim franchise. However, instead of being a true sequel to the first four games, Horizon is an offshoot from the main canon in that it trades closed circuits for a singular open, expansive map based on the geography of Colorado, complete with traffic and, for the first time in a Forza game, off-road driving and day-to-night transition. All that plus the polished-to-a-mirror-finish Forza Motorsport 4 physics engine you know and love. For an MSRP of $59.99, it’s sure to make your giftee’s spirits bright.
Out of the gaming world’s left field comes an upstart Australian developer by the name of Camshaft Games and its first title, Automation. This ambitious digital download, PC-only title (the full version of which is still under development) lets players run their own car companies by designing, testing, building and marketing vehicles in a timeframe spanning from 1946 to 2020. At present, only the engine designer is available as a demo, but if the rest of the game is as in-depth as it is, you (or the person for whom you’re buying it) won’t be disappointed. It’s available for pre-order through the Automation website for $25 for the basic version, or $35 for the deluxe “Turbocharged” version.
Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends
Rare is the single-marque driving sim that isn’t deserving of bargain bin software status. The classic (The fact that anything released in the year 2000 can be considered classic makes us feel 816 kinds of ancient.) Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed is one such exception, and 2012’s Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends is another. Developed by the highly-respected Slightly Mad Studios (and built on the Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed engine), this title tracks the evolution of Ferrari from its first self-branded car in 1947 to the present day with virtually all of the nameplate’s most significant road cars, sports and GT racers, and F1 weapons. Throw in legendary tracks (some of which, like Silverstone and Hockenheim, are available in their past and present forms) and gorgeous graphics and you have a winner. Retail price is $29.99 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC digital download.