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"The Relay" Online Newsletter
July 2022 Issue

This is the monthly online newsletter for the car club council. All car hobbyist events are listed on this site under "Calendar." Just click on the link above to view the list of car shows and other activities.

President's Message

Relax and be happy because we all know things are going to get worse in the future due to our political "leaders". Take the time to find a way to relax such as a drive through the country on that $5 a gallon gas. On a drive recently I spotted a Prius in my rear view mirror. It was silver (aren't all of them) but it had a dual black racing stripe down the driver's side of the hood, roof, trunk. The stock market may not have hit a bottom yet but something has hit bottom if a Prius has racing stripes.

One thing that has not hit bottom is the Virginia gasoline and diesel tax. It goes up again July 1 - thanks go to former Governor Northam for signing into law a gasoline tax increase that may happen on every July 1st forever - and special thanks to the democrats in the State Senate that made certain the tax goes into effect despite Governor Youngkin not only wanting to stop it but give us a gas tax holiday of 3 months - sounds like something Joe Biden wants to do. But not our own state democrats.

Here are a couple of quotes for you. “Taxes have virtually nothing to do with the price of gasoline.”
-- Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D), 6/17/2022

“By suspending the 18-cent gas tax, the federal gas tax for the next 90 days, we can bring down the price of gas and give families just a little bit of relief.” -- President Joe Biden (D), 6/22/2022

July is the month of the American vacation. Hopefully you can get out and have some summer fun and try to forget about all the chaos that is our governments.

~ Fred

Kitty says get out there and drive before gas prices go up again

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be Monday, August 22nd at 6:30 PM at a location to be announced in the August newsletter.

Car Hobbyist News

The state has passed a budget - on Friday the 17th the Assembly met for eight hours and passed 23 of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s 35 budget amendments. The gas tax holiday didn't make the cut. From the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy: "Of all the tax reductions approved in the budget agreement, the Thomas Jefferson Institute has long argued that the most systemic reform was doubling the state standard deduction, and Governor Youngkin made that part of his program. The approved budget took Virginia 80 percent of the way there – along with reductions in the grocery tax and taxes on veterans. In his budget amendments, Governor Youngkin additionally sought a three month “gas tax holiday” of 26 cents per gallon – a response, no doubt to gasoline prices now rising above $5.00 per gallon. Democratic Senators, along with putative Republican Emmett Hanger, opposed the measure and killed the proposal … thus creating new business opportunities in the coming recession for political consultants with plans to remind voters of who voted against cutting gasoline prices for families.

For our part, the Thomas Jefferson Institute believes the most effective next reform will be to index Virginia’s tax rates to the cost of living (just as the Feds do) – thus protecting Virginians from the Bidenflation afflicting us."

Okay - at least the state finally has a budget even if it isn't exactly what the people want. On the federal front you know what's going on if you turn on a TV. The media keeps talking about gas prices and inflation which are of course related. The Biden administration certainly doesn't look like it knows what it is doing. Take the Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm laughing when asked about high gas prices. You may have seen the video when asked by Bloomberg - Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm threw her head back and laughed when asked if there was a plan to bring gas prices down. And then there is Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitting she was wrong about inflation. Next is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg taking two months of paternity leave after adopting a baby - right at the height of the supply chain crisis. The entire administration sure looks incompetent as public servants that are supposed to help the American people to a better life.

Now Biden is considering some type of gas tax holiday or a suspension of the federal gas tax. The announcement may come on July 4th. This measure would have to go through Congress. As we know the gas tax holiday didn't make it through the General Assembly but with the election coming in November who knows?

And we know the reason for the gasoline and diesel increase. President Biden has been admitted that it is to replace fossil fuels which was on his campaign website while running for president in 2020. Fossil fuels need to be replaced because of climate change. Although there seems to be no debate on climate change anymore I think there are a lot of people who are becoming "deniers"

The president has stated we should buy electric vehicles. Biden held an Electric Vehicle meeting at the White House and did not invite Tesla. “Last year, Biden held an EV summit where Tesla was explicitly not allowed to come, but [United Auto Workers] was. So, Tesla has made two-thirds of all the electric vehicles in the United States,” said Musk, who is estimated to be worth more than $250 billion. United Auto Workers (UAW), with more than 390,000 active members, is one of the largest unions in the United States and has long been a major player in Democratic Party politics since its inception nearly 100 years ago.

Looks like Germany is one of those. German officials announced that the country would restart a number of coal-fired power plants over the coming months as part of an effort to conserve natural gas supplies amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. The move comes in response to Russia's recent throttling of gas exports to Europe, while breaking with climate pledges made by Olaf Scholz, who was elected chancellor in December. Natural gas accounts for about 25% of Germany's energy consumption, the majority of which is used for heating and industrial purposes. Roughly one-third—down from more than half—of Germany's gas supplies come from Russia.

This reminds me of the old TV commercial about the rubber meeting the road. As prices continue to climb more people will doubt this conversion from fossil fuels to renewable electricity. One last thought - if government wants clean energy why not build nuclear power plants like France has done - nuclear is cleaner than solar panels and wind turbines - or why not just dam up some rivers for clean hydro-electric power? Nope, the government wants to go with the most expensive ways to produce electricity - solar panels and bird killing wind turbines. Even the environmentalists are beginning to wonder what is really going on.

The Increased Gas Tax Increase You Didn’t Know You Were Paying

By Stephen D. Haner, The Jefferson Journal
Virginia’s gasoline and diesel taxes will rise 7% on July 1, about three more cents per gallon when all the elements of the tax are combined. This is the inflation-driven cost of living adjustment which Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) and most legislative Republicans tried to short circuit, but which was preserved by a vote in the Virginia Senate last week.

The new gasoline tax will be 28 cents retail, 8.2 cents wholesale plus another 0.6 cents per gallon to fund a program for removing old underground tanks safely. That’s a combined tax of 36.8 cents per gallon. The taxes on diesel will be 28.9 cents retail, 8.3 cents wholesale plus the same tank fee, a total of 37.8 cents per gallon.

Most of the attention on Youngkin’s proposal focused on his effort to suspend the retail (but not the wholesale or underground tank) portion of the tax for 90 days. But both his regular session bill and the version he offered as a late budget amendment also reduced the coming inflation adjustment, or indexing, of the tax as of July 1. The version rejected last week capped the increase at 2%, well below the current levels of inflation.

When opponents complained of major financial impacts from the change, they were really talking about the revenue that would disappear without the indexing provision, which will be cumulative over the years. Inflation and then compounded inflation are powerful revenue enhancers for government at all levels, a tax all by itself.

Many in the Assembly were reluctant to give it up, just as they refuse to index income tax provisions that would lower family tax bills (such as the standard deduction or tax brackets). Inflation is a wonderful thing if your goal is to collect ever more taxes.

The new gas tax numbers below were shared by the Virginia Petroleum and Convenience Marketing Association, which just notified its members and encouraged them to be sure customers got the word. The tax is actually collected from the wholesale distributors who bring the fuels to the gas stations and convenience stores, not imposed at the pump.

The tables reproduced in its announcement came from the Division of Motor Vehicles, which has nothing about this on its website yet.

The DMV, up to its old tricks, is still playing games with the numbers. A chart on the retail tax is presented in cents per gallon, but the wholesale tax table is presented in dollars per gallon. That moves the decimal two places and makes it look like the wholesale tax is way smaller than the retail tax. The illusion is probably not an accident.

And it is probably not an accident that no effort is made inform motorists of the total tax, which has been a subject of deception for years now. Democrats playing these games was bad enough. It is time for the new Republican administration to direct DMV to come clean and clearly communicate the total tax hit.

All 20 Senate Democrats present and one Republican voted to kill Youngkin’s amendment. Here is how the House voted, with a few Democrats supporting the Governor’s proposal.

Perhaps that smattering of House Democrats sensed that their party’s leader, President Joe Biden, was about to side with Youngkin and against the majority of Virginia’s Democratic legislators. Wednesday Biden came out for a 90-day gas tax holiday, and not just at the federal level. He pushed states to do the same. He was one week late to help Virginia motorists.

Ironically, at the federal level quite a few Republicans are pooh-poohing the idea using exactly the same rhetoric that Democrats employed in Richmond. Voter confusion is assured. But there is one difference: The federal tax is not and has never been indexed to increase annually for inflation.

Come the 2023 election season, because of the indexing provision, those nays on Youngkin’s proposal may be (correctly) portrayed as votes to raise the state gas tax in the middle of a gasoline price inflation storm. And the state tax will rise again next July 1, just before the election, unless a future Assembly changes that rule.

Richmond Ford Cruise-In
Richmond Ford Cruise-In ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

More Rules for Virginia, Made in California

By Stephen D. Haner, The Jefferson Journal
Virginia’s auto industry overlords in California have a new set of proposed mandates for both electric and internal combustion vehicles which, once adopted, will automatically apply here in the Commonwealth. They do not advance the date for banning the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles earlier than 2035 but do increase the incremental targets for percentage of EV sales in earlier years.

The California Air Resources Board regulatory process is well advanced, with a revised draft coming out soon, setting up a second round of comments and a final hearing in August. Virginia’s dying news media cannot cover this state anymore, so don’t expect coverage of actions in Sacramento. And, of course, the corporate media is now dominated by editors, writers and owners committed to the war on fossil fuels.

Adding to that, Virginia’s auto dealers themselves (big advertisers and campaign donors) played a huge role in supporting the decision by former Governor Ralph Northam (D) and the then-majority Democrats in the legislature to pass the 2021 bill putting Virginia under California’s control. A 2022 bill to reverse that passed the House with its new Republican majority, but failed on a party line vote in a Senate committee controlled by Democrats.

A recent CARB PowerPoint slide deck on the proposal includes one showing all the states which have decided to follow California’s rather than federal vehicle regulations, and claims they account for 40% of all U.S. vehicle sales. Starting with the 2026 model year, 35% of all new vehicle sales would have to be zero emission vehicles in Virginia, not the previous target of 26% under the current regulation.

Given the price differentials and the investment it is making in EV conversion, the auto industry is probably ecstatic. The CARB claims that 300-mile range battery vehicles will achieve cost parity with the older technology by 2033, and offers illustrations of lower lifetime costs, but the initial sticker prices are likely to remain high and the industry really wants to sell the larger cars, SUVs and light trucks, too. See what the Ford F-150 version costs.

If you have any skin in this game, the slide deck and an accompanying description of all the related regulatory proposals are important to review. The depth and breadth of the proposal is impressive. Responding to known elements of consumer resistance to EVs, the rules dive into charging technology, battery life and labeling, and maintenance and warranty requirements.

One goal is to maintain 75-80% of the initial range of the vehicles for their whole useful life, an admission, apparently, that many of the vehicles now being sold lose substantial range over time. That doesn’t happen to a well-maintained internal combustion engine.

Plug-in hybrids will have to go at least 50 miles on a charge (they don’t now?). And, recognizing that internal combustion vehicles will remain on the road for decades, California will impose new fleet standards on them and seek to reduce aggressive driving and cold starts, impose new design standards to prevent evaporation of fuel, and in general remake the industry to its liking.

Starting in 2025, the fleet fuel economy requirements will be calculated with EV’s removed from the equation, and they are totally disregarded from the calculation after 2029. That will force changes with the internal combustion vehicles still being sold.

Even the towing industry is in for some changes.

The claim is that adopting this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2040, which is conceivable only if the claim applies solely to motor vehicle emissions. The slide also shows vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions going down about 20% in that period if these regulations are not imposed. The regulations have even less impact on vehicle nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, also dropping on their own.

California claims the savings to the state and consumers exceed the cost without considering “health benefits or the social cost of carbon.” The health benefits are always exaggerated, if not imagined, and the social cost of carbon is definitely a made-up number.

There is an environmental justice component, “to reward direct automaker action.” Plans include discounted EVs for community programs, lower retail prices, and more used EV’s being directed to participating dealerships. Whether those elements of California’s plan will also apply in Virginia is not clear. If they are tied into the carrot and stick methods California uses to manage dealer and automaker behavior, it is likely they will.

The 2021 General Assembly majority completely surrendered (some might suspect sold) the sovereignty of their constituents. If they didn’t anticipate California was just getting started and would double down, they should have. Bowing under federal regulations is one thing, as Virginians get to vote for members of Congress and the President. No one in Virginia votes for California’s legislators or governor (or can sign a California initiative and referendum petition).

But we do vote on the Virginia legislature again in 16 months.

Council Member Writes Book

Gary Platz of the Slant Six Club of America (a council member) has written a book "My slant on things: Tales of old Chryslers and junkyards and stuff". The following is from Gary.

This book contained articles that I wrote for a former slant six club out of Salem, Oregon. Most of the articles are about cars/trucks that we were resurrecting from the crusher and brought them to where they were mechanically sound and decent looking. The Circle (now Chesterfield) Auto Recyclers is where we found parts to fix our vehicles. This book is a lighthearted look at what we did on the cheap. There are photos of us in the junkyard and also my cartoons used for certain articles in the old slant six publication. There are articles on my present and past vehicles.

This was a collaborative effort to publish this book as Ed Dreistadt edited and help compile this book and Dave Zatz organized and had the book published at his expense. Ed is a marketing guru and Dave is a college professor and Chrysler historian. Without these two gentleman, this book wouldn’t exist. It was Dave Zatz’s idea to compile these old articles into a book. We have sold over fifty in one year and are waiting for the talk show tour and possibly a tv or a movie version and being on the New York Times best selling list. It’ll be a very long wait.

You can get the book from Amazon. I bought the book and can recommend it. You can contact Gary at platzbarbara@yahoo.com or call 804-526-0520.

Richmond AACA Show 2022
Richmond AACA Show 2022 June 11 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

How to Do a Flawless Donut

From Life Hacker
There's nothing more American than laying down a circle of burnt rubber while screaming "whoo!" ~ until you get a reckless driving ticket or find out how much tires cost

There’s nothing stupider and more awesome than doing a donut in your car. Burning your tires and wrecking your engine to make a ton of smelly smoke and leave behind a circle of rubber on the blacktop is quintessentially American.

Below is a step-by-step guide to pulling off the perfect donut, whether you’re in a rear-wheel or front-wheel drive car—standard or automatic transmission.

An important disclaimer about doing donuts
You shouldn’t. Driving in an aggressive manner in public is almost definitely illegal where you live. Doing donuts is dangerous: You could flip your car, or lose control and crash. It’s bad for your tires and bad for your engine. Toxic tire smoke is bad for your lungs and bad for the environment. It is not safe. It sends a bad message to the youth of America. Other than it being totally rad, there’s no good reason to do donuts at all. What are you trying to prove, man? What are you rebelling against anyway?

A pre-driving guide to doing donuts
Before your begin your drifting adventure, you’ll need the following
A car. Preferably a rear-wheel drive, manual transmission car.
A good amount of open space on a private property, and permission from the property owner to do dumb things with your car. Could be blacktop, dirt, or grass (but a donut will tear up the turf, obviously).
Some water: Some donut-nuts like wetting the ground (or their tires) first so there’s less traction.
A tune-up. Donuts are hard enough on a car that has been well maintained. A tuneup might mitigate some of the wear and tear.
A traffic cone (optional, but recommended).
A friend to take the video and dial 911 when you crash.

How to do donuts in a rear-wheel drive, manual transmission car
The most classic and satisfying doughnut requires a car with a stick shift and rear-wheel drive. There are two methods of doing doughnuts with this set-up: the easier “pop the clutch” method, and the more advanced “donuts from motion” method.

A step-by-step guide to the easiest donut
Place your cone a few feet from the driver side headlight. So you can see it. This is going to act as your focal point—the center of your circle.
Turn off your car’s traction/stability control (this is vital).
Put the car in first gear.
Turn your wheel to the left. Far, but don’t lock it all the way.
Mash the throttle! You want around 3,500 to 4,000 RPM.
Dump the clutch.
You should now be in your donut, with the rear of the car swinging around. Don’t panic; counter-steer instead.
Using your traffic cone to guide you, and use the throttle and steering wheel to make a perfect circle. Don’t make an oval. Ovals are for losers.
Steering: The wheels will basically follow along with the momentum of the car, but you’ll still need to nudge the wheel to keep things tight.
Throttle: The steering wheel is secondary to the throttle when it comes to controlling a donut. More throttle makes the circle wider. Less makes it tighter. Steering is mostly for fine-tuning your orbit.
Yell “whoo!”
Stop when you grow tired of doing a donut or hit a tree. Press the brake or take your foot off the gas.

How to do an advanced rear wheel drive donut
Lay down your cone.
Drive slowly around the cone with the steering almost all the way to the left (but not all the way).
Gradually increase your speed until you feel the tires start to slip.
Take your foot off the accelerator. This will shift the cars weight forward, making the back light and floaty.
When you feel the weight shift, mash the pedal to the floor.
Let the steering wheel turn all the way to the opposite side.
Ease up on the gas to about halfway.
You should now be spinning about, and you can use your throttle and steering to fine tune your circle.
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work right. Even extremely stupid things take practice.
This guide from carthrottle.com goes into greater detail and contains diagrams and troubleshooting tips.

How to do donuts in a front-wheel drive car
If your car is a front-wheel drive, automatic transmission (because it’s your mom’s car), it’s supposedly still possible to do donuts, but you really shouldn’t: it’s kind of lame, and it’s apparently harder on front-wheel drive cars, and your mom will be mad if you mess up her Toyota.

But if you insist on doing donuts, you have two options (and I really can’t say how well either will work, so try both/neither). The first works on automatic transmission and manual transmission cars; the second is only possible in cars with a clutch.

Forward front-wheel drive donuts
Wait for the road to be wet or turn a hose on it.
Turn off traction/stability control. This is vital.
Don’t put the car in (D)rive. Put it in 1st, or hill climbing gear.
Drive forward slowly.
Turn the steering wheel left or right almost all the way.
Accelerate sharply; the car should start to slip.
Engage the handbrake.
You can control your circle by controlling the throttle and the handbrake.

Reverse front-wheel drive donuts
If you put a front wheel drive car in reverse, it’s essentially a rear-wheel drive car—or so the theory goes. Of course, cars are not designed to drive in reverse very fast or for very long. Your car’s engine and weight distribution were designed for going forward, so this is likely to be very hard on your poor car. But if you must:

Turn your steering wheel in the direction you want the back of your car to go.
Shift into reverse.
Engage the clutch.
Stomp the gas—foot to the floor,
Release the clutch and the front wheels should slips and start sliding around the back wheels.
Jerk your steering wheel in the opposite direction.
Seriously, don’t do this. You’re going to fuck up your car.

Further inspiration for donut aficionados
It’s probably possible to lose traction but still keep control in most vehicles, if you’re ingenious and persistent enough. For instance, these nerds manage to get an electric Smart car to lay down some rubber (with the help of greased up tires). Here’s a mail truck doing donuts in the snow. And this guy put wagon wheels on his car and did donuts. But just to be a downer, here are a few videos of donut crashes.

11th Annual Old School Street Cruisers Show
11th Annual Old School Street Cruisers Show June 18
Album - opens to a new window

1st Annual Destination Church Car Show
1st Annual Destination Church Car Show June 19
Album - opens to a new window

Michigan Is Now Offering Digital License Plates

This is from Hagerty News
In partnership with California-based company Reviver, Michigan drivers now have the option to purchase a digital license plate for their vehicle. Touting the new plates as a “modern licensing solution that works for the way we live today,” Reviver co-founder and chief strategy officer Neville Boston says the digital license plates come with a smartphone app that includes the ability to switch the plate’s display between a light and dark mode, personalize a banner message at the bottom of the plate, receive alerts if the vehicle is moving, and report the vehicle stolen. The plates are offered in two options: RPlate, a battery-powered, self-installed model with a replaceable five-year battery that costs $19.95 a month or $215.40 for a four-year commitment; and RPlate Pro, a hard-wired model installed by a professional that includes integrated telematics features and a backlit display for $24.95 a month or $275.40 for four years. Businesses can purchase RFleet, which bundles each plate with a suite of software features for commercial vehicle fleet managers; the cost is not given on Reviver’s website. Michigan is the third state, after California and Arizona, that allows the legal sale and registration of digital plates.

While we can see the advantages of a digital plate that comes with a boatload of features—and the ability to display amber or silver alerts—we can’t fathom why anyone would want to shell out the extra coin for the current offerings. Is $215.40 (on the low end) worth it to avoid the lines at the DMV? Do you really need yet another form of social media to broadcast messages that are momentous only to yourself? (Wait, isn’t that what Facebook and Twitter are for?) Worst of all, anything you want to put on your digital plate must be pre-approved, so some truly valuable information like “Lions Suck!” and “You’re a horrible driver—yes, you!” are not viable options.

10 in 2022: Ten Policies to Unleash American Energy and Fuel Recovery

From American Petroleum Institute
1. Lift Development Restrictions on Federal Lands and Waters
The Department of the Interior (DOI) should swiftly issue a 5-year program for the Outer Continental Shelf and hold mandated quarterly onshore lease sales with equitable terms. DOI should reinstate canceled sales and valid leases on federal lands and waters.

2. Designate Critical Energy Infrastructure Projects
Congress should authorize critical energy infrastructure projects to support the production, processing and delivery of energy. These projects would be of such concern to the national interest that they would be entitled to undergo a streamlined review and permitting process not to exceed one year.

3. Fix the NEPA Permitting Process
The Biden administration should revise the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process by establishing agency uniformity in reviews, limiting reviews to two years, and reducing bureaucratic burdens placed on project proponents in terms of size and scope of application submissions.

4. Accelerate LNG Exports and Approve Pending LNG Applications
Congress should amend the Natural Gas Act to streamline the Department of Energy (DOE) to a single approval process for all U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects. DOE should approve pending LNG applications to enable the U.S. to deliver reliable energy to our allies abroad.

5. Unlock Investment and Access to Capital
The Securities and Exchange Commission should reconsider its overly burdensome and ineffective climate disclosure proposal and the Biden administration should ensure open capital markets where access is based upon individual company merit free from artificial constraints based on government-preferred investment allocations.

6. Dismantle Supply Chain Bottlenecks
President Biden should rescind steel tariffs that remain on imports from U.S. allies as steel is a critical component of energy production, transportation, and refining. The Biden administration should accelerate efforts to relieve port congestion so that equipment necessary for energy development can be delivered and installed.

7. Advance Lower Carbon Energy Tax Provisions
Congress should expand and extend Section 45Q tax credits for carbon capture, utilization, and storage development and create a new tax credit for hydrogen produced from all sources.

8. Protect Competition in the Use of Refining Technologies
The Biden administration should ensure that future federal agency rulemakings continue to allow U.S. refineries to use the existing critical process technologies to produce the fuels needed for global energy markets.

9. End Permitting Obstruction on Natural Gas Projects
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should cease efforts to overstep its permitting authority under the Natural Gas Act and should adhere to traditional considerations of public needs as well as focus on direct impacts arising from the construction and operation of natural gas projects.

10. Advance the Energy Workforce of the Future
Congress and the Biden administration should support the training and education of a diverse workforce through increased funding of work-based learning and advancement of STEM programs to nurture the skills necessary to construct and operate oil, natural gas and other energy infrastructure.

The Dazzle Camo Edition

From Why Is This Interesting
Ryan McManus (RMM) is an enduring friend of WITI who previously wrote about lunch notes, the fashion of the aero wheel, the end of spare parts, and the simple elegance of SecuriCode. He is a Design Strategist at Ford, currently living in Massachusetts.

Ryan here. Last summer, I was in the parking lot of my local Whole Foods when a strange sight appeared—an at-the-time unreleased Rivian R1T electric truck, completely wrapped in a bright, psychedelic pop-art pattern. For those unfamiliar with the practice, this might appear an attention-seeking act of an outlandish owner. But for those who know about prototypes, test mules, and Erlkönige (or Erkling), the Rivian would have just been the latest manifestation of an automotive subterfuge-by-design approach that has its roots in World War I.

Back in 1918, a sailor and artist in the British Royal Navy named Norman Wilkinson came up with an idea. While the open sea provided little cover for more traditional camouflage tactics, using alternating black and white geometric patterns broke up the outlines of the ships, thus making them harder to target by German subs (BMW unironically recounts this tale in their corporate blog here). The idea was if you couldn’t hide through camouflage, you could at least confuse your enemy. Wilkinson dubbed his invention “dazzle camo.”

Automotive companies would face a similar (though far less lethal) challenge starting in the 1950s. This saw the rise of the very first “spy photography” for automotive prototypes when some German photographers captured images of these vehicles out testing and published them in a magazine in a section called Erlkönige (named after a Goethe poem which contained the line “Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?”). This was a new threat to auto manufacturers—suddenly, the proliferation of spy photography meant that their precious IP would be revealed to the public (and their competitors) much sooner, giving away a competitive advantage in the market. Something had to be done.

(A quick aside here on why test mules, or prototypes, need to test out in the open: these vehicles tend to be fairly far along in development but their engineering and design needs real-world validation. Test vehicles need thousands of real miles before a manufacturer can feel confident about signing off on a release. Sometimes this might be durability testing, other times it might be performance at altitude, in extreme climates, or even for NVH—Noise, Vibration, and Harshness. Wind tunnels and test chambers are used extensively but can only tell you so much, and even private company test tracks are not immune to spy photography. Further complicating things, the closer a vehicle got to release the less disguised it had to become—bulky fake roofs and added geometry would foul the test.)

So the automakers found themselves in a similar boat to the Royal Navy: if they can’t conceal through camouflage, maybe they can confuse. Thus the reintroduction of dazzle camo in an entirely new capacity. Starting in the 1980s auto manufacturers would paint high-contrast, geometric patterns on their erlkings to break up the shape and design of the vehicle to make them harder to discern. This embraced a paradox: By covering the vehicles in this camo they would immediately signal to anyone paying attention that it was, indeed, a prototype. But the risk was mitigated through the camouflage—if it did its job, the damage of exposure would be minimal.

Enter back to the current decade, and back to that Whole Foods parking lot, and we observe a new mutation of the classic automotive dazzle camo—one that seeks attention, rather than hides from it. The spy photography of the 1950s pales in comparison to the proliferation of camera phones and video and social media—suddenly, a prototype’s exposure is far more likely and far more constant. So while subterfuge and disguise still have their part to play in the early development of new vehicles (like when Rivian disguised their trucks as F150s), these late-stage prototypes embrace the spotlight. The dazzle remains and does continue to mask minor details, but more often than not it will also include a QR code or an Easter-egg packed pattern or even color to draw attention. Since now more than ever people recognize an erlking as a thing worth capturing, why not use the attention to generate interest instead of slinking away, into the dark?

NSRA Appreciation Day at DAPS
NSRA Appreciation Day at DAPS June 25
Album - opens to a new window. Photo by Ron Clark

The Briefs

Florida woman performing oral sex on driver nearly bites his penis off when they get into head-on collision with FedEx van. A Florida man nearly had his penis bitten off after getting into a head-on collision while his girlfriend was performing oral sex on him. The couple hit a FedEx van at unknown speeds on Thursday around 7pm. The man was said to have sustained injuries to his groin area and was seen lying on his back while police gathered around him. His girlfriend was found in a more compromising position, with her jeans around her ankles, leaving her black underwear and white tank top exposed. The FedEx passengers sustained mild injuries and appeared to casually sit on the sidewalk while authorities investigated the crash. No one has been charged for the accident and police have not released names.

Taco Bell's new “Defy” restaurant concept, which looks like a combo of The Jetsons and a fancy new bank, promises to deliver food to your car faster through vertical lifts that work similarly to tubes used by banks. See below:

Three Missouri judges have upheld an arbitration ruling ordering GEICO General Insurance Company to shell out a $5.2 million settlement to a woman who alleged she contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD) during car sex, according to a report. The ruling came down Tuesday from a panel of judges in the Missouri Court of Appeals after the insurance company mounted a legal effort to reverse the arbitration settlement, the Kansas City Star reported. The bizarre court case saga’s roots extend back to 2017 when a woman, referred to in court documents as M.O., allegedly contracted anogenital Human Papillomavirus (HPV) from a man identified as M.B. while they engaged in unprotected sex in his Hyundai Genesis, the Insurance Journal previously reported. The claimant alleged that M.B was aware that he had HPV, but he neither took measures to protect her from the disease nor did he disclose the diagnosis. According to an October 2021 GEICO court filing, M.B had a pair of insurance policies with the company, including “a Kansas Family Automobile Insurance Policy that listed M.B.’s Hyundai Genesis and an umbrella policy.”

How would you feel if you found out that a mechanic took your Chevrolette Corvette on a high-speed joyride after being trusted to deal with an engine problem? No doubt you’d be furious, and that’s precisely how Michael felt couple of weeks ago after finding out that his 2021 Corvette, which he recently took delivery of after an 11-month wait, had been driven at speeds of over 140mph by a technician after visiting a Chevrolet dealership in Fremont. An unusual noise coming from the car’s engine turned out be caused by a loose spark plug, and, as you’d expect, the mechanic quickly resolved the problem with relative ease. However, the story took a turn for the worse as the mechanic decided to push the 495bhp supercar to its limits during a test drive. Unbeknownst to the unwitting joyrider, the car’s onboard Performance Data Recorder captured everything from GPS positioning to video from the car’s onboard cameras, which later revealed several pulls to over 100mph and a 148mph race against a Dodge Charger on a busy public highway. Dosanjh offered Michael a swap: his misused 2021 Corvette for a brand new 2022 C8, completely free of charge. Dosanj made sure that the new car included all of the options Michael originally wanted on his 2021 Corvette but missed out on due to production shortages and delays, such as the front nose lift system and the upgraded front seats. The car dealer even paid the sales tax for the new ride and included an extended warranty as a gesture of goodwill.

We’re all aware of the current cost-of-fuel crisis hitting the UK, but here’s some data that shows just how concerning the problem is. According to figures from Trading Economics, petrol in the UK is now more than four times as expensive as the world’s cheapest prices found in Indonesia.

Reynold Gladu took over his gas station in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1973. But at least for now, he no longer sells fuel, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported on June 7. When his pumps ran dry this month, he didn't refill them because he can't abide the prices. "I don't want to be a part of it anymore," he said. "This is the biggest rip-off that ever has happened to people in my lifetime." His station will continue to do oil changes and other service, but, he said, "Enough is enough." A spokesperson for ExxonMobil said prices are out of her company's control, being "influenced by the price of crude and wholesale price of products which fluctuate according to demand and supply factors." But Gladu isn't buying it -- "It seems like the oil industry is in this together" -- or selling it.

A taxi in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, is out of service for the time being, NL Times reported on June 8, but not because it's in need of repairs. In the Netherlands, seagulls are a protected species, and a pair of gulls has built a nest and laid an egg on the windshield of a parked taxi, right between the wipers. Before the egg was laid, employees tried to move the nest multiple times, but the pair kept returning and rebuilding it. Now, the taxi must stay put until the baby gull hatches and fledges. Hope that meter's not running.

Things got heated in a Pasadena, Maryland, community on May 31: As residents waited for their mail, WBAL-TV reported, two letter carriers got into a fight in the street. One witness said that one of the mail carriers “punched the window on the other one's mail truck,” and that “one backed up and slammed into the other one like bumper cars." Another witness, Brenda Rippetoe, said, "There was mail all over the street. They kept going around the block, and at one point, they were front-to-front, hitting their bumpers together." Residents called 911, and the postal service sent other carriers to pick up the mail, which was delivered by 7 p.m. People along the route said their regular carrier was on vacation, so the angry stand-ins were unfamiliar to them.

Orwell, Ohio, police called the Ashtabula County Sheriff's Office to help them corral a drunk driving suspect on May 14 -- but it wasn't your typical "reckless operator," WOIO-TV reported. Twenty-one-year-old Nathan Miller was charged with OVI -- operating a vehicle while intoxicated -- for driving his horse-drawn Amish buggy on the wrong side of Hague Road. Officers were able to get in front of the horse and buggy, but the rig didn't stop; it turned out Miller was passed out in the driver's seat. While deputies tried to get control of the horse, it crashed into a patrol car. Miller was treated for injuries at the scene.

Iberia Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff's officers were called out at 3:30 a.m. on May 22 because of a house found abandoned on a trailer attached to a truck, KATC-TV reported. The rig was blocking the road, and signs, mailboxes and trees had been damaged along the street. In addition, power lines and poles had been hit, knocking out power to about 700 customers in the area. Deputies arrested Tony Domingue, 46, and Nico Comeaux, 32; they had been told they needed permits to move the home, but they went ahead and tried to do it on their own anyway. Both men were held at the Iberia Parish jail.

Stephanie Kirchner, 33, a farmer who works at a stud farm near her home in Schupbach, Germany, has had to make some changes since gas prices have climbed in the wake of the war in Ukraine. Instead of riding to work in her Toyota SUV, she's now riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn carriage to her job about 3 1/2 miles away. It makes what was once a 10- to 15-minute commute take up to an hour, the Associated Press reported, but she saves about $264 a month. She said children like the horses, but "humanity is hectic and then some people are annoyed if they can't get past me fast enough." Another downside: "I can't put a horse in a parking garage."

After Michael Calvo, 51, of Cape Coral, Florida, crashed his semitruck into the back of a Publix grocery store in Haines City on May 26, he didn't immediately get out of the cab because, he told an officer, he thought he was being pranked for a reality TV show. When the officer was able to remove Calvo from the truck, Fox13-TV reported, he asked if he had fallen asleep or suffered a medical emergency, to which Calvo answered, "I was smoking my meth pipe." Calvo was arrested on multiple charges, although the deputy police chief did express his appreciation for Calvo's honesty.

Behold Chevrolet’s first electric SS model, due in July : With a proclaimed “groundbreaking mix of style, performance and technology” the 2024 Chevy Blazer EV will be officially released on July 18th, in a top-tier Super Sport trim level. Underpinned by the General’s soon-to-be ubiquitous Ultium platform, the Blazer (especially the SS trim level) is expected to offer more performance with a higher price tag than the upcoming Equinox EV, which should start around $30K. As details are still thin on the ground, we’ll also wager the Blazer is poised to offer compelling reasons for would-be buyers to avoid Tesla’s Model Y crossover. The Blazer EV is likely taking a page from its gasoline-powered predecessor, considering the current model costs over $7000 more than the gasoline Equinox. (It will likely go toe-to-toe with Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, with the SS model aligning with the GT in power and price.) With almost a quarter-million Blazers sold since its inception in 2019, it’s a safe bet the EV variant will continue to impress CUV buyers…while bringing home enough bacon to mercilessly silence Blazer loyalists’ who demand a return to a truck-based template.


Cruise at the Richland Dairy June 26
Cruise at the Richland Dairy June 26
Album - opens to a new window, Photo by Ron Clark

Repair Mistakes & Blunders

From Rock Auto
Our minivan, a 2016 Chrysler Town and Country, did not come with a spare tire, and this is commonplace with some newer vehicles. But you could purchase the spare, hoist, and cover on RockAuto so I wasted no time ordering it on the way home from the dealer. Everything went fine during the install, and I was satisfied that we were prepared in case of a blow-out.

All went well until 2020, when a loud clunking noise started coming from near the center console when turning. I looked underneath, and the only thing in the area was the spare. I hung my head thinking something must have gone wrong with my installation. I pulled out the spare and inspected the hoist and still could not identify what had gone wrong. Out of an abundance of caution, I took out the mounting bolts and reinstalled them.

After all that effort, the clunk remained, and my significant other complained that it had only gotten worse. I spent the next two months crawling under that vehicle inspecting transmission/engine mounts, suspension components... etc. You name it. I celebrated when I found a sway bar end-link starting to go, but the clunk remained after that fix as well.

I finally gave up and was going to bring it to a shop before our next road trip. We began the arduous task of removing all the stuff that the kids would need while the van was at the shop. Then in the throes of defeat, I opened up the storage compartments underneath the seats only to find the culprit. During an outing, my wife had allowed our four-year-old to collect...a rock (about the size of a brick). I could not believe that this was the cause of my headache. We had a good laugh about it though!

Andrew in New York

Richmond AACA 2022 Show

US Report: Nearly 400 Crashes of Automated Tech Vehicles

From AP News
Automakers reported nearly 400 crashes over a 10-month period involving vehicles with partially automated driver-assist systems, including 273 with Teslas, according to statistics released Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cautioned against using the numbers to compare automakers, saying it didn’t weight them by the number of vehicles from each manufacturer that use the systems, or how many miles those vehicles traveled.

Automakers reported crashes from July of last year through May 15 under an order from the agency, which is examining such crashes broadly for the first time.

“As we gather more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify any emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world,” said Steven Cliff, the agency’s administrator.

Tesla’s crashes happened while vehicles were using Autopilot, “Full Self-Driving,” Traffic Aware Cruise Control, or other driver-assist systems that have some control over speed and steering. The company has about 830,000 vehicles with the systems on the road.

The next closest of a dozen automakers that reported crashes was Honda, with 90. Honda says it has about six million vehicles on U.S. roads with such systems. Subaru was next with 10, and all other automakers reported five or fewer.

In a June 2021 order, NHTSA told more than 100 automakers and automated vehicle tech companies to report serious crashes within one day of learning about them and to disclose less-serious crashes by the 15th day of the following month. The agency is assessing how the systems perform and whether new regulations may be needed.

Six people were killed in the crashes involving driver-assist systems, and five were seriously hurt, NHTSA said. Of the deaths, five occurred in Teslas and one was reported by Ford. Three of the serious injuries were in Teslas, while Honda and Ford each reported one.

Tesla’s crash number may appear elevated somewhat because it uses telematics to monitor its vehicles and get real-time crash reports. Other automakers don’t have such capability, so their reports may come slower or crashes may not be reported at all, NHTSA said. A message was left seeking comment from Tesla.

Tesla’s crashes accounted for nearly 70% of the 392 reported by the dozen automakers. Although the Austin, Texas, automaker calls its systems Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving,” it says the vehicles cannot drive themselves and the drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.

Auto safety advocates said driver-assist and self-driving systems have potential to save lives, but not until NHTSA sets minimum performance standards and requires safety improvements to protect all road users.

“It’s clear that U.S. road users are unwitting participants in beta testing of automated driving technology,” said Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said that although NHTSA’s data has limitations, it’s not isolated evidence that Tesla has ignored regulations, putting the public in danger. There has been “a never ending parade of reports” of Teslas on automated systems rolling through stop signs or braking for no reason, he said. NHTSA also is investigating Teslas that crash into parked emergency vehicles.

“As today’s data suggests, this contempt for auto safety laws has real-world consequences,” Markey said while urging NHTSA to take enforcement action.

But many Tesla owners love the automation. Craig Coombs of Alameda, California, said he uses the systems in stop-and-go traffic and on frequent highway trips. “They really reduce driver fatigue overall,” he said.

He gives himself a “moderate” grade for paying attention while using the system but says he never takes his mind off the road entirely. He knows the technology isn’t perfect, and said he has had to take over driving at times.

Manufacturers were not required to report how many vehicles they have on the road that have the systems, nor did they have to report how far those vehicles traveled, or when the systems are in use, NHTSA said. At present, those numbers aren’t quantifiable, an agency official said.

However, NHTSA has used the data to seek a recall, open investigations and provide information for existing inquiries, officials said.

“This will help our investigators quickly identify potential defect trends that can emerge,” Cliff said. “These data will also help us identify crashes that we want to investigate and provide more information about how people in other vehicles interact with the vehicles.”

Honda said it has packaged the systems to sell more of them, which could influence its numbers. “The population of vehicles that theoretically could be involved in a reportable event is much greater than the population of vehicles built by automakers with a less-aggressive deployment strategy,” the company said.

Also, reports to NHTSA are based on unverified customer statements about whether automated systems were running at the time of a crash. Those crashes may not qualify for reporting to NHTSA after more data is gathered, Honda said.

NHTSA’s order also covered companies that are running fully autonomous vehicles, and 25 reported a total of 130 crashes. Google spinoff Waymo led with 62, followed by Transdev Alternative Services with 34 and General Motors-controlled Cruise LLC with 23.

Waymo, the autonomous vehicle unit of Alphabet Inc., said it has more than 700 autonomous vehicles in its fleet. The company is running a fully autonomous ride-hailing service in Arizona and testing one in California. The company said all the crashes happened at low speeds, with air bags inflating in only two of them.

In 108 of the crashes involving fully autonomous vehicles, no injuries were reported, and there was only one serious injury. In most of the crashes, vehicles were struck from the rear.

Richmond AACA 2022 Show

Biden Administration Cancels Alaska Oil and Gas Lease Sale

From CBS News
The Biden administration has canceled one of the most high-profile oil and gas lease opportunities pending before the Interior Department. The decision, which halts the potential to drill for oil in over 1 million acres in the Cook Inlet in Alaska, comes at a challenging political moment, when gas prices are hitting painful new highs.

In a statement shared first with CBS News, the Department of the Interior cited a "lack of industry interest in leasing in the area" for the decision to "not move forward" with the Cook Inlet lease sale. The department also halted two leases under consideration for the Gulf of Mexico region because of "conflicting court rulings that impacted work on these proposed lease sales."

The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has previously canceled lease sales in Cook Inlet three times — in 2007, 2008, and 2011 — also citing "lack of industry interest" at the time as the reason for scrapping the sales.

But Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, released a statement Friday rejecting the administration's contention that there was not much interest from the industry in the lease sale.

"Citing a 'lack of industry interest' is nothing more than fantasy from an administration that shuns U.S. energy production. Cook Inlet is the sole source of the natural gas that more than 400,000 people in Southcentral Alaska—and significant military bases that are critical to our national security—depend on," Senator Murkowski said. "I can say with full certainty, based on conversations as recently as last night, that Alaska's industry does have interest in lease sales in Cook Inlet. To claim otherwise is simply false, not to mention stunningly short-sighted. The Biden administration needs to recognize how this decision is going to hurt Alaskans, reverse it immediately, and get the federal oil and gas program back on track now."

Federal law requires the Department of the Interior to stick to a five-year leasing plan for auctioning offshore leases. The administration had until the end of the current five-year plan — set to expire at the end of next month — to complete these lease sales.

Until now, the White House had remained silent about the massive Alaska lease. However, canceling the sale would be in keeping with political promises President Joe Biden made in the name of halting global warming. But those promises have become a political challenge in the face of prices at the pump.

"They don't want to get hit by the Republicans in light of the high gas prices," one environmental advocate told CBS News, speaking on the condition he not be named because of the sensitivity of the topic. "They're getting killed on attacks based on inflation. The most visible sign of inflation is high gas prices."

The delicate political situation was evident after a top environmental official showed her hand in an email that copied a CBS News reporter. Gina McCarthy, the White House national climate adviser, wrote that "the Cook inlet sale was canceled. It is not proceeding."

Almost immediately, another White House official jumped in to declare that McCarthy got ahead of herself. Interior Department officials said a final decision had not been made. On Wednesday, though, with time running out, the department made its announcement.

Frank Macchairola, a top official with the American Petroleum Institute, the country's largest oil and gas trade association, called the cancellation of the Cook Inlet lease "another example of the administration's lack of commitment to oil and gas development in the US."

"The President has spoken about the need for additional supplies in the market, but his administration has failed to take action to match that rhetoric," Macchairola said, adding that politically it would play "not well."

"In the kind of price environment that we're seeing, there are negative consequences to shutting off oil and gas development, both politically and practically," he said.

The national average price of regular gas has hit an all-time high.

For environmental groups, the decision was welcome news. The Alaska offshore lease arrangement would have opened drilling opportunities over a span of more than 1 million acres for 40 or more years of production. The new activity would have led to new underwater pipelines and platforms in the environmentally-sensitive area.

Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife and oceans for the environmental advocacy group Earthjustice, said more than a decade would pass before those leases could have had an impact on gas prices.

"It's good for the climate, which can't handle new oil and gas development," Caputo said. "It's good for Cook Inlet because offshore drilling is dangerous and disruptive. And it's good for the people of Cook Inlet, including native people, who cherish the inlet in its natural state. So it's a really good thing."

Still, any decision that worked against the interests of oil and gas involves political trade-offs. According to a recent CBS News poll, Mr. Biden's approval rating is lowest when it comes to the economy and inflation, with 69% of those surveyed disapproving of his handling of inflation. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they believed the president "could do more" to lower gas prices.

American Petroleum Institute senior vice president Frank Macchiarola said in a statement, "Unfortunately, this is becoming a pattern - the administration talks about the need for more supply and acts to restrict it. As geopolitical volatility and global energy prices continue to rise, we again urge the administration to end the uncertainty and immediately act on a new five-year program for federal offshore leasing."

But environmentalists argue the climate issue is too important to get caught up in political battles.

"The scientists are telling us the time to shift from fossil fuel energy is not years from now," Caputo said. "It's today. We need to end offshore oil leasing."

New Zealand to Price Sheep and Cow Burps to Cut Greenhouse Gases

From: NBC News
The proposal would make New Zealand, a large agricultural exporter, the first country to have farmers pay for emissions from livestock, the Ministry for Environment said. (California is considering this.)

New Zealand on Wednesday released a draft plan to put a price on agricultural emissions in a bid to tackle one of the country’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases, belching sheep and cattle.

The proposal would make New Zealand, a large agricultural exporter, the first country to have farmers pay for emissions from livestock, the Ministry for Environment said.

New Zealand, home to 5 million people, has about 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep.

Nearly half its total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, mainly methane, but agricultural emissions have previously been exempted from the country’s emissions trading scheme, drawing criticism of the government’s commitment to stop global warming.

Under the draft plan, put together by government and farm community representatives, farmers will have to pay for their gas emissions from 2025. Short-and long-lived farm gas will be priced separately, although a single measure to calculate their volume will be used.

“There is no question that we need to cut the amount of methane we are putting into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key part in how we achieve that,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.

The proposal includes incentives for farmers who reduce emissions through feed additives, while on-farm forestry can be used to offset emissions. Revenue from the scheme will be invested in research, development and advisory services for farmers.

“Our recommendations enable sustainable food and fiber production for future generations while playing a fair part in meeting our country’s climate commitments,” said Michael Ahie, chair of the primary sector partnership, He Waka Eke Noa.

The proposal would potentially be the biggest regulatory disruption to farming since the removal of agricultural subsidies in the 1980s, said Susan Kilsby, agricultural economist at ANZ Bank.

A final decision on the scheme is expected in December.

Richmond AACA 2022 Show

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