Weekend Video Roundup: Kobe Bryant Out-Smarts an Art Thief, Mika Häkkinen Hoons a Caparo T1, Big Rig Gymkhana and More!
For those who weren’t paying attention, Friday was April Fool’s Day. We, however, take our jobs as close observers of automotive tastes and trends very, very seriously. Like dead serious. Why else would we be so committed to bringing you the most must-watch videos of the week in one easy-to-digest post? Exactly.
Mika Häkkinen Drives the Caparo T1
Last week we saw 1998 and ’99 Formula 1 World Driving Champion Mika Häkkinen offering a friendly reminder to Mercedes GP drivers to keep their eyes on the prize this season. Last week’s season opener ended in a pair of DNFs (did not finish) for those guys, but the even-keeled Finn is doing far more than starring in Mercedes-Benz commercials these days.
Häkkinen was in England recently, specifically the Goodwood Estate, giving journalists and VIPs rides around the sprawling complex’s driveways in a Caparo T1 to promote the annual Festival of Speed coming up in July. Autocar magazine’s Mark Tisshaw was one of the lucky folks to ride shotgun with the flying Finn, and he brought some cameras along to document the hijinks.
Kobe Bryant’s Chinese Smart Fortwo Brabus Commercial
It seems Lakers star Kobe Bryant is showing up in more and more TV advertisements these days, and not just in America. Smart’s Chinese arm has enlisted the NBA all-star’s help in hawking the Brabus edition of the Fortwo, and the result is an ad that sees Bryant chasing down an art thief through dense city traffic. A show of hands: How many of the Celtics fans in the audience were rooting for the thief? Figures…
Weapons-Grade Car Stereo Shreds a Phonebook (Rather NSFW Language)
It’s no secret that upgrading car stereos is big business, and there are aftermarket head units, speakers, amplifiers and other parts out there that range from mild to wild. Factor in the mix-and-match possibilities of all those individual components and you begin to get an idea of just how broad the range of configurations is.
In the interest of demonstrating how much bass a higher-end system can pump out, sound system builder Steve Meade opened the tailgate on a 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe he and his crew enhanced, held a phonebook in front of an opening in the subwoofer enclosure and…well, it’s clearly not a good idea to stick your head in there, at least not without some industrial-strength ear protection. Yikes.
Mike Ryan Does a Ken Block-Style Gymkhana Run in His Race-Prepped Big Rig
If you’ve had a means of accessing the Internet for the past few years (You probably should right now, since we don’t offer a printed version of this site that’s mailed to your door.), you’ve almost certainly become familiar with Ken Block and his many rubber-vaporizing escapades. Naturally, the popularity of Kenny B’s moving pictures has inspired some imitators, some spoofers, and people who had too much to drink and/or didn’t want to back down from a dare.
Professional stunt driver Mike Ryan arguably fits into the first category: Imitator. However, even though the venue is the same as Block’s first series of Gymkhana videos – the sprawling ex-El Toro Marine airbase in Irvine, California – his vehicle of choice is thoroughly original. You see, it’s a heavily modified Freightliner Cascadia semi truck that was originally designed for the Pikes Peak Hillclimb, an event Mr. Ryan has won a dozen times in the Big Rig class. Considering the car, er, truck control skills he puts on display, it’s easy to see why.
Turbocharged Corvette Crashes at 230 mph
Finally, how many times have you seen an Indycar smack the wall at over 200 mph and watched the driver climb out without a scratch? Sounds like the sort of thing you would never see in a production road car, particularly ones that were never designed to crack the Double Ton. However, such stories of survival in such mishaps are not unheard of, something for which the driver of Hinson Motorsports’ muy loco turbocharged Chevrolet Corvette Z06 was quite grateful at last weekend’s Texas Mile meeting.
After setting a new standing mile record for Corvettes on an earlier run (224 mph), the Hinson folks decided to crank up the boost (thereby unlocking the full 1,700+ hp seen on the dyno) and go for 240 mph. At about 230 mph, however, a mechanical failure caused the Vette to hang a hard right, sending it on a wild ride through the turf before coming to rest (no-longer-)shiny-side-up. Even after that, they’re going to come back for more. For reals? We’d just buy a lotto ticket and hide under the bedsheets.