Month: December 2013

REQUIRED VIEWING “BULLITT” | THE GRANDDADDY OF CAR CHASE SCENES

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Before the Fast & Furious franchise, before the Blues Brothers, before Smokey and the Bandit, before the French Connection, there was Bullitt. Steve McQueen, director Peter Yates, and stunt drivers Bud Elkins, Bill Hickman, and Carey Loftin  worked together to craft a car chase that, to this day is the standard by which all car chases are judged, and none have surpassed. Here, courtesy of The Selvedge Yard, is a behind the scenes glimpse into the making of this legendary and ground breaking scene. ahr

The Selvedge Yard

BULLITT

To say thatBullitt had a car chase scene is like saying Steve McQueen was a good actor. Both are arguably gross understatements. The history-making car chase from Bullitt is still considered the gold standard for which all such scenes are held to today.

McQueen hadn’t planned on a driving double– in fact, he firmly insisted on doing all the Mustang stunt driving himself.  But that all quickly changed– while shooting an early scene (that can be seen in the film), he missed a turn pretty hard and nearly lost it.  The studio exec’s immediately pulled the plug on McQueen’s plans and tapped professional stunt drivers with a little more practical experience and skill. As fate would have it, main driving duties were handed over to none other than McQueen’s good buddy (and auto and motorcycle racing legend) Bud Ekins.

The story behind the filming of this ground-breaking scene

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Winter Wobbling

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I don’t envy those who live in warmer and less snowy places. They miss out on one of my favorite winter pastimes; driving in a snowstorm. You read correctly. I enjoy the challenge of maintaining control of a vehicle, be it car, truck, or school bus, in Northeast Snowconditions that would cause Rudolph and Santa to consider UPS this year. Give me low visibility and limited traction and I will be one happy little lobster.

Where I live we have had two snowstorms in the last few days, and there is freezing rain on the way for the weekend. Such a spate of inconvenient weather, (not bad weather; all weather is good,) usually means three things:

  • Grocery stores are packed to the rafters with folks buying provisions as though the end was nigh
  • Local highway department workers are busy planning their plow routes so that they will pass the end of the driveway just as you are finished clearing it, creating a six foot bank you must remove
  • Otherwise competent and skilled drivers completely forget how to control a car, either performing the equivalent of a Ken Block Gymkhana video or skidding into a tree.

The first two are products of human nature, a subject on which I’ve long given up. So let’s take a look at some ways to cope with less than adequate traction.

First bit of advice is do as I say, not as I do. Stay home until the worst is over, and let the plow guys do their jobs. But after the storm, roads will still be slick, so slow down and keep a good distance between vehicles. this goes doubly for you folks with AWD winter-driving-2and 4X4’s. Very few things are more irritating than being passed (in weather!) by some high end computer mobile or lifted lorrie  because they think “Power to all wheels! I got this!” What they have is four tires. Under power. Losing traction. Not steering, Or Stopping. Smarten up.

Then it’s just common sense stuff, Clean ALL the snow off the car. Don’t jam on the brakes, pump them easily. Don’t use cruise control. Follow the plow, don’t pass it. Turn on lights.

If you should start to skid at the rear wheels, easily remove your foot from the gas and steer into the skid. (Tail left, turn left, & vice verse,) Do not touch the brakes!  Repeat as necessary. If the front starts to slide, remove foot from gas pedal, put car in neutral and do NOT steer. The car will straighten itself out.

I suggest just after a storm finding an empty lot and practicing skids a few times. Yes you’ll look like a Hoonigan, but it may keep you out of trouble later on. Or it would be good to take a winter driving course like the one offered by Team O’Neil Rally School. Either way, do what you can to make yourself a better driver in all conditions!

ahr

Let Us Now Remember…

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On Saturday, November 30th, a charity event was held in Los Angeles  for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. At the conclusion of the succRodasheadshot_200x250essful event, Roger Rodas fired up his Porsche Carrera GT and, with passenger Paul Walker, left the festivities. Shortly thereafter, the car slammed st speed into a utility pole and burst into flames. Both occupants were killed. Rodas is survived by his wife, Kristine, and two children. He was 38.

Roger Rodas was a successful financial adviser for Bank of America/Merril Lynch,having been named one of America’s top wealth management advisers three years in a row. He was a successful business owner and entrepreneur; he owned Always Evolving, an automotive specialty shop, and sponsor of the November 30th charity event. And he was a successful racing driver, competing in the Pirelli  World Challenge in 2013 as a rookie, and placing 2nd in points in the Pirelli Porsche Driver’s Cup Series championship in 2012, with2 race wins and 6 podium finishes.

With his well earned wealth and extensive financial knowledge, Rodas was extremely generous with both his time, money, and expertise. He was a board member of Asomugha Foundation, a charity who aided young women and children in Nigera and South African countries who were victims of poverty, human rights violations and national widespread health epidemics. Also he, along with Walker, founded Reach Out World Wide, which brought skilled volunteers to disaster stricken areas such as Haiti. Rodas was also instrumental in developing waste to energy power plants and wind farms in Central America, and he was also owner of Cielo Recycling, a Central American recycling plant. Finally, Rodas helped Walker establish a foundation in Reach Out World Wide that enabled Walker to accept donations on behalf of his foundation and bring the biggest bang for his philanthropic buck when it came to bringing skilled volunteers to areas hit hard by natural disasters.

Roger Rodas exemplified the American Dream. He worked hard, played hard, and most importantly gave of his time, fortune, and knowledge to leave the world a better place. His example should be used as a life model for anyone, young, old, rich, poor, Native, immigrant.  There are actually many more like him out there who give unselfishly. They come from all walks of life. Sadly had Mr. Rodas not had a famous passenger on that fateful drive, we may never have heard of him. Let us focus on his accomplishments, and not make his memory merely the answer to a trivia question.

ahr