Japan's First Race Track

Tamagawa Speedway, a1.2-km oval course was inaugurated in May 1936 as the first official automotive race track in Japan. The small oval track outside of Tokyo came 26 years before the world-famous Suzuka Circuit opened. Racing had been gaining popularity in Japan since the mid 1920's but never before had a purpose built track been constructed.

Soichiro Honda crashes at the inaugural race. via The Tamagawa Speedway Society  

Those early races had the pioneers of the Japanese automotive industry including racing driver and founder of Honda Motor Company, Soichiro Honda, behind the wheel. Nissan and Ota as well as other brands faced off on the tarmac from 1936-1938. But with war looming on the horizon auto racing would be put on hold well into the 1950's in any official capacity.


Today the site is a park near the river, a section of the banked track and the built in grandstands still remain. But while it's time was brief, Tamagawa Speedway was the first of it's kind and a major part of Japanese automotive history.


Review: Sudio Sweden Wireless Earbuds

For the last several weeks I have been using the Sudio Sweden wireless earbuds. The company sent them to me with the hopes I would like them and talk about them. Well after using them at the gym, traveling with them by car and by air, I have to give them a big thumbs up.

Retailing at about $100 (I thought they were more), they provide excellent sound quality for earbuds, are lightweight, and feature incredible battery life. In fact in the last three weeks I have only charged them once. While many other brands have come out with untethered earbuds, I like the fact that these have a tether, because as I know I would drop one on a plane or into the netherworld that is between my seat and center console and that would be it.

Check out my quick video review below for more and visit for more information or to purchase your own set.

Road Trip: Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is a magical place, four-hundred eighty acres of untouched natural beauty that is open to the public free of charge. I parked the Fiat 500L and headed into the visitor's center to learn more about the park. 

The park was a gift to the City of Colorado Springs by railroad tycoon Charles Elliott Perkins. Perkins always wanted the space to be enjoyed by the public as a place to reflect on the natural beauty of the garden. 

In 1909, Perkins' children, knowing their father's feeling for the Garden of the Gods, conveyed his four-hundred eighty acres to the City of Colorado Springs. It would be known forever as the Garden of the Gods "where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park."

Today the park is still free for all who wish to visit, including over 15 miles of trails, picnic areas, and a visitors center that showcases the park's history and geological significance. I took a bit of a diversion from my road trip to Denver to stop and meet up with fashion model Madison Flowers to go on a short hike and take some pictures in the amazing park. 

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Planning your visit is easy, even if you are tight on time, I recommend at least taking a drive through the parks amazing roads before jumping back on the I-25. To plan your visit CLICK HERE

MINI John Cooper Works Clubman

The new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman offers all the style, practicality and fresh-thinking of the Clubman, combined with the high performance and sporting dynamics of the John Cooper Works range.

The result is a unique and exclusive proposition that combines the John Cooper Works-specification engine and corresponding modifications with MINI's ALL4 all-wheel drive system. In creating this potent model, able to take full advantage of the maximum possible traction in all conditions, MINI has created a powerful but practical vehicle that's fun to drive in the true spirit of a MINI.

As the latest member of the John Cooper Works family, the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman features all the upgrades already seen on the John Cooper Works Hatch and Convertible models. These include the 231 hp engine with modified MINI TwinPower turbocharger, sports suspension and powerful braking system. A 0-62 mph time of just 6.3-seconds and a top speed of 148 mph is the result, but not at the expense of economy or emissions; with up to 41.5mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions as low as 154 g/km.

The MINI John Cooper Works Clubman is instantly recognisable thanks to its more aggressive front and rear bumpers, and its rear wing. These not only help reduce lift, but in the case of the front section, assist with the additional cooling requirements of the more powerful engine. Unique alloy wheels and John Cooper Works badging also denote the top-of-the-range Clubman, as does the option of the special colour 'Rebel Green'.

Inside, the John Cooper Works specification includes sports seats, an Alcantara headliner, and a wide array of standard equipment including MINI Navigation, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and cruise control with brake function. MINI logo projection is also included within the standard package. Beyond that, MINI offers a huge range of personalisation options and further equipment, allowing owners to create their own, unique, MINI John Cooper Works Clubman.

Exterior design

The design of the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman maximises the presence of this unique vehicle, with the added flair of a high performance model.

It's instantly recognisable thanks to a bespoke front apron, with air inlets now cited where other Clubman models have parking and fog lamps. These intakes channel fresh air to brake cooling ducts and to cool the additional radiator of the Works specification cooling system. Integrated air curtains and air breathers help optimise the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle. Unique side sills, roof spoiler and a rear apron help to reduce aerodynamic lift.

Further exclusive touches include the side turn indicator surrounds, which feature a red accentuation line along with the John Cooper Works logo applied against a black background, and the hexagon pattern grille with a red crossmember bar at the bottom edge. The 'John Cooper Works' logo appears here too, as well as on the right-hand door at the rear of the car.

The standard LED headlamps are surrounded by a daytime driving light ring that also uses LED technology, the lower section of which is white and acts as the turn indicator. The horizontally arranged rear light units also comprise LED lamps.

Engine: TwinPower Turbo Technology

The new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman uses the same highly tuned engine as the John Cooper Works Hatch and Convertible models. The 2-litre unit features the latest MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology and Valvetronic fully variable valve control on both the intake and exhaust camshafts.

To effectively realise the increased output of 231 hp between 5,000-6,000rpm (up 39 hp on the standard Cooper S engine), the John Cooper Works Clubman uses a modified turbocharger made from a particularly heat resistant material. A correspondingly larger intercooler is also fitted, which contributes to an increase in torque to 350 nm which develops over a particularly wide band from 1,450-4,800rpm. Increasing the boost pressure is teamed with a lower compression ratio thanks to the use of model-specific pistons. Unsurprisingly, the cooling system has also been upgraded to cope with the increased heat generated by a more powerful engine, and now features a second coolant radiator found in the left-hand wheel arch.

Finally, a sports exhaust helps to reduce the engine's backpressure and also gives the John Cooper Works Clubman a sporty sound familiar from other models in the John Cooper Works range.

The inherent efficiency of this engine contributes to an impressive fuel consumption figure of 38.2mpg (41.5mpg), and CO2 emissions of 168 g/km (154 g/km) (figures in brackets for vehicles fitted with the eight-speed sports Steptronic transmission).

Transmission: advanced gearboxes and an all-wheel drive drivetrain

With the new John Cooper Works Clubman, MINI is for the first time combining its most potent engine offering with its ALL4 all-wheel drive system. The result is the most efficient possible deployment of the available power, providing very strong acceleration in all conditions.

The considerable power and torque of the 2-litre turbocharged engine is fed through either a six-speed manual gearbox or an 8-speed sports Steptronic transmission. The manual gearbox offers ideally spaced ratios, a model-specific gear lever and short shift mechanism for rapid gearchanges, and also features an engine speed adaption facility via a gear sensor for the smoothest possible downshifts. Carbon friction linings for the synchronising rings add to the inherent efficiency of this lightweight, easy-to-use gearbox.

The eight-speed Steptronic gearbox allows for especially fuel-efficient driving thanks to the wide spread - but closely stacked - gear ratios and quick shifting times. Further efficiency improvements can be realised if the vehicle is fitted with MINI Navigation XL, as the Steptronic gearbox takes into account upcoming bends and junctions, thereby avoiding unnecessary gearchanges. Gears can be changed either automatically, or manually via the shift selector or with paddles on the steering wheel. A launch control function enables the quickest possible acceleration away from rest, every time.

The ALL4 all-wheel drive system deploys the engine's output to maximum good use. The system uses a bevel gear power take off on the front differential and an electro-hydraulically controlled 'hang-on' clutch mounted on the rear axle to distribute the engine's power as required. In normal driving and with the DSC active, the vehicle is effectively front-wheel drive, the clutch only sending power rewards when required - in just fractions of a second - if the need to do so is detected by the DSC system. The DSC continually monitors wheel speeds, accelerator position and engine torque, amongst others, plus takes into account the dynamic traction control setting and MINI Driving Mode, thereby quickly identifying any possible need for torque distribution - either in slippery conditions or during especially dynamic driving.

Not only does the ALL4 system make driving more fun, it also assists the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman in reaching 62mph from a standing start in just 6.3-seconds.

Suspension and braking: John Cooper Works specification

Naturally, the suspension and braking set up of the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman has been upgraded to match its increased performance. As with the other John Cooper Works specification MINIs in the range, the John Cooper Works Clubman features a firmer suspension setup, in this case specifically tailored to the Clubman's wheelbase and weight distribution.

Variable Damper Control is available as an optional extra, offering a choice of two set-ups for the electronically controlled dampers, which can be accessed via the MINI Driving Modes, a standard feature on the John Cooper Works Clubman. SPORT mode provides the most dynamic driving experience, while in MID and GREEN mode the damper characteristics support a more comfortable driving style. The MINI Driving Modes are selected via a rotary switch at the base of the gear lever and also influence the characteristic curves of the accelerator pedal and steering, the engine acoustics and the shift characteristics of the 8-speed Steptronic sports transmission (if the latter is fitted).

The standard Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) also includes Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC) - which acts as an electronic locking function for the front axle differential - and Performance Control, which assists agile turn-in when taking bends at speed. The standard functions of the electromechanical power steering include speed-related steering support for maximum precision when cornering at speed and for comfortable manoeuvring at low speeds.

The braking equipment of the John Cooper Works Clubman has also been strengthened over the Cooper S model, with a four-piston caliper setup developed in partnership with braking specialists Brembo. These powerful brakes are readily identifiable by the red finish for the calipers, complete with the John Cooper Works logo.

The standard equipment for the car also includes 18" light alloy wheels in Black 'Grip Spoke' design, which are exclusive to this model. This wheel design is also available as an option in silver, with a 19" 'Course' two-tone design a further option.

MINImalism: Maximising efficiency

The inherent efficiency of the engine, transmission and ALL4 drivetrain is further boosted by additional technology - MINImalism features that include as standard brake energy recuperation, shift point display, needs-based control of the fuel pump, coolant pump and other ancillary units, electromechanical power steering (which only provides assistance as it's needed) and a map controlled oil pump. The auto start/stop function can also be used in conjunction with the Steptronic transmission.

The MINI Driving Modes enable activation of the GREEN mode, which supports an efficiency-optimised driving style. In models fitted with the Steptronic transmission it is possible to use the coasting function, whereby the drivetrain is decoupled at speeds of between approximately 30 and 100 mph as soon as the driver removes their foot from the accelerator pedal.

Interior Design: Practical and stylish

The inherent practicality built into every new MINI Clubman is obvious, with five full-sized seats accessed via four side doors and the Clubman's characteristic split rear doors. Behind the latter is a load area of 360-litres, which rises to as much as 1,250-litres with the rear seats folded flat (a 40:20:40 split is available as an option).

The John Cooper Works modifications take this highly versatile package and inject the genuine fittings and feel of a high performance car, creating a unique proposition. The standard trim includes John Cooper Works sports seats in Carbon Black upholstery with Dinamica/fabric with integrated headrests. As an option these can be trimmed in Dinamica/Carbon Black leather with red applications.

In addition, there's a John Cooper Works leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons, the John Cooper Works door sill cover strips, the John Cooper Works gear or selector lever, stainless steel pedals including driver footrest and cockpit displays with dark dials. Other sporting details include the anthracite roof liner, interior trim 'Grey Chequered', and red design accentuations not just on the seat surfaces, but also on the steering wheel rim, the gear or selector lever and the central instrument surround.

Safety and equipment

With its torsionally stiff, rigid and weight-optimised body structure, the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman forms the ideal basis for its comprehensive set of standard safety fittings. These form part of the integrated MINI safety concept comprising of six airbags, 3-point automatic belts on all seats (including belt tensioners and adaptive belt force limiters at the front) as well as ISOFIX child seat mountings at the rear. Other standard features include a tyre pressure display function for each individual wheel and Intelligent Emergency Call with automatic detection of vehicle location and accident severity, as well as the collision warning with city braking function. Meanwhile, impact absorbers and deformation elements ensure optimised pedestrian protection.

LED headlamps are fitted as standard, and they can be supplemented with a turning light function including adaptive light distribution, if desired. In addition to air conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free telephone facility and electric parking brake, other standard features include Park Distance Control with sensors at the rear, cruise control with brake function, and Comfort Access - also enabling touch-less opening of the split doors by means of a foot movement under the rear apron. The standard fit audio system is the Radio MINI Visual Boost including USB socket and operation via the MINI Controller in the centre console, as well as the 6.5-inch colour screen in the central instrument fitted with a MINI Navigation system.

Optional items include the Harman Kardon hi-fi system and the MINI Navigation System XL. The features of the MINI Navigation XL include not just the Touch Controller in the centre console but also an 8.8-inch colour screen in the central instrument. For the first time in a MINI, the latter takes the form of a touchscreen, so functions can now also be selected and adjusted by placing a fingertip on the screen. Other options include a panorama glass roof, 2-zone automatic air conditioning, seat heating for driver and front passenger and windscreen heating. The unique MINI Connected in-car infotainment program is also available, offering extensive integration of smartphones in the car. This allows the use of internet-based services in the areas of infotainment, communication and driving experience by means of apps.

Over 80% of MINI John Cooper Works Clubman customers are expected to choose the Chili pack which adds a host of additional extras to the car. These features include the customer's choice of any upholstery from the range, heated seats, 19" Course spoke alloy wheels and the storage compartment pack. Chili pack is priced at £2,000 on MINI John Cooper Works Clubman.

A range of additional option packs and personalisation equipment allows every MINI John Cooper Works Clubman buyer to tailor their car to their exact preferences, in the process creating a unique take on an already highly exclusive vehicle.

The new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman will receive its world premiere at Paris Motor Show, Mondial de l'Automobile 2016. Customers can place orders for the new model at MINI retailers across the UK from today.

Porsche Returns to Silverstone

Returning to its spiritual home of Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone Auctions will host its penultimate sale of the year, The Porsche Sale held in conjunction with Porsche Club GB, on Saturday 15th October.

The marque dedicated sale really is a must for collectors and Porsche enthusiasts, with more than 60 of the best Porsches available on the market going under the hammer, as well as a host of collectible Porsche related automobilia.

From a low mileage Boxster, a stunning Carrera GT, an example of every front-engined Porsche ever made, project cars, to some of the best 911s produced and even a Porsche tractor, the catalogue once again features a fantastic mix of cars which are sure to tempt you.

Highlights entered into the catalogue include a UK delivered, right-hand drive 1986 930 Flatnose that has covered just 21,000 miles from new, estimated at between £100,000 and £120,000. A 1989 Porsche 911 (930) Turbo with just 24,000 miles from new, is estimated at between £135,000 and £155,000, while a show winning 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S, perhaps the best 944 in the world, is estimated at between £35,000 and £40,000.

A special preview evening will be held on Friday 14th October in The Wing building at Silverstone, giving buyers a great opportunity to inspect the cars on sale first hand. Racing legend Derek Bell will be joining Silverstone Auctions and Porsche Club GB at the preview evening, giving a talk on his life and career and answering questions from visitors. Also in attendance will be a number of Porsche specialists, able to help prospective buyers with all aspects of a new Porsche purchase. Viewing will also be available on the morning of the sale day with the auction itself taking place from 1.30pm on Saturday 15th October.

For more information on the sale please visit

Royal Enfield Opens Flagship Store in Milwaukee

It was a historic day for Royal Enfield, the fastest-growing motorcycle brand in the world, as it marked the opening of its first flagship dealer experience in Milwaukee, the heart of the North American motorcycle community.

Royal Enfield CEO Siddhartha Lal and Rod Copes, president of Royal Enfield North America, addressed the crowd, including VIPs and dignitaries, at the grand opening event this past weekend. 
“Royal Enfield is focused on delivering a ‘Pure Motorcycling’ experience to consumers. Our motorcycles are classically styled, simple, evocative and fun to ride. Royal Enfield creates a unique experience for riders that is approachable and unintimidating,” Copes said at the press conference. “This is the brand’s first stand-alone showroom location in the U.S., which brings to life the 115-year heritage of Royal Enfield – a history we’re very proud of.”
The company has also selected Milwaukee as the location of its headquarters and currently employs a staff of 20.
“Myself and the rest of the Royal Enfield global leadership are committed to the North American region,” Lal said. “Since 2010, we have increased production from 50,000 units to 500,000 units globally, and we are expected to produce 675,000 by the end of this fiscal year. North America is key to the contribution of that global growth.”

Royal Enfield North America will be continuing the brand’s storied history with the unveiling of its North American model lineup, featuring single-cylinder engines currently up to 535 cc. Available models at the 226 N. Water St. showroom include:
  • The Classic 500 – timeless colors and classic styling ideal for exploring a city or cruising a country road.
  • The Continental GT – a light and nimble motorcycle that boasts an aggressive riding position for an exhilarating ride.
  • The Bullet 500  in production for seven decades with its unmistakable appearance and distinctive exhaust note, this model delivers a classic, vivid sensory experience on every ride.
To learn more about Royal Enfield North America or to inquire about joining the dealer network, please click here.

About Royal Enfield:
The oldest motorcycle brand in continuous production, Royal Enfield made its first motorcycle in 1901. A division of Eicher Motors Limited, Royal Enfield has created the mid-size motorcycle segment in India with its unique and distinctive modern classic motorcycles. With its new manufacturing base in Chennai, India, Royal Enfield has been able to grow its production rapidly against a surge in demand for its motorcycles. With more than 50 percent growth every year for the last five years, Royal Enfield is fast becoming a very important player in the global mid-size motorcycle market and is working toward reinventing this space with motorcycles that are evocative and engaging and great fun to ride.

Royal Enfield exports to over 50 countries across the world including the USA, UK, several European and Latin American countries, as well as the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Royal Enfield also organizes and supports many motorcycling events and rides globally, more prominently the Rider Mania – an annual gathering of Royal Enfield riders from all over the world at the lovely beaches of Goa – and the Himalayan Odyssey, the most arduous motorcycle ride over some of the toughest roads and highest mountain passes in the Himalayas. Royal Enfield also conducts the popular “One Ride,” where people around the world ride out on their motorcycles on the first Sunday of April.