I had a second opportunity to enjoy a private track day at Talladega Gran Prix Raceway in Munford Alabama over the spring. The stable of cars was again impressive. My Porsche Carrera 996 was joined by a Porsche Carrera 993, Porsche GT3, Porsche Speedster (with a true racing history), Two race-prepped Miatas, BMW M3 to name a few. We arrived at the track at 9:00 AM eager to spend the day blasting down the straights and sweeping through the turns. By the end of the day both drivers and cars had done their best. Everyone safe. Every car straight and still running. What more could you ask for? I again shot some video, but as you can see, the seat-belted tripod with my trusty Panasonic point-and-shoot did much better than the hand held attempt you see in the earlier post. I also decided to embellish the production of this second drive. I hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed the ride.
I’ve had the opportunity to track my 1999 Porsche Carrera C2 at Little Taladega two times over the last three years. The race track is the first of its kind in the United States. Talladega Gran Prix Raceway was originally designed by Ed Bargy as a motorcycle road race course. Typical race tracks were designed primarily for car racing with motorcyclists merely being an afterthought. Talladega Gran Prix Raceway was designed to avoid the use metal or concrete barriers outside of corners, which for a motorcyclist could mean the difference between a major injury or death and just a scrapped up bike and set of leathers. This is the first time on the track. It was a blast, and I plan to return as much as possible. Enjoy!
Three days of riding in the North Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina mountains. No one in the group has invested in a helmet camera, or a motorcycle mounted camera. In addition to being a standard point and shoot camera, my Casio Exilim shoots HD video as well. We had a small tripod, duct tape and an entire day to try this out. Several videos from several bikes. Here’s one of my favorites. It almost looks like we did this on purpose, but this is all the “image stabilization” this camera has when mounted to the rear case rack of my Ducati Multistrada with duct tape. The bike following is a MV Agusta Brutale that may be the easiest way to burn out your lifetime supply of adrenaline reserves. Enjoy!
The Porsche 356 was the company’s first production automobile. Production started in 1948 when approximately 50 cars were built. In 1950 the general production of the 356 continued until April 1965. It is estimated approximately half of the total production of 76,000 Porsche 356s still exist.
The 356 was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche. The 356 was a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car utilizing unitized pan and body construction. While the 356’s body was an original design by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, its mechanicals were derived from the Volkswagen. Porsche quickly re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. By the late ’50s many fewer parts were shared in common between Volkswagen and Porsche. The early 356 automobile bodies produced at Gmünd, Austria were handcrafted in aluminum, but when production moved to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950, models produced there were steel-bodied.
The basic design of the 356 remained the same throughout its lifespan, with evolutionary, functional improvements rather than yearly minor styling changes. A variety of models in both coupe and convertible forms were produced from 1948 through 1965.
Cabriolets were offered from inception, and in the early 1950s over 50% of total production. One of the most desirable collector models is the Porsche 356 “Speedster”, introduced in late 1954 after Max Hoffman, the sole US importer of Porsches, advised the company that a lower-cost, open-top version could sell well in the American market. With its low, raked windshield, bucket seats and folding top, the Porsche Speedster was an instant hit. Production of the Speedster topped 1,171 cars in 1957 and then started to decline. It was replaced in late 1958 by the “Convertible D” model. It featured a taller, more practical windshield, glass side windows and more comfortable seats. The following year the 356B “Roadster” convertible replaced the D model. Soft-top 356 model sales declined in the early 60s.
To distinguish among the major revisions of the model, 356’s are generally classified into a few major groups. 356 coupes and “cabriolets” built through 1954 are readily identifiable by their split windshields. In 1955, with several small but significant changes, the 356A was introduced. Its internal factory designation, the Type 1, gave it the nickname “T1” among enthusiasts. In early 1957 a second revision of the 356A was produced, known as Type 2. In late 1959 more additional styling and technical refinements gave rise to the 356B. This was known as the “T5” body.
The mid 1962 356B model was changed to the T6 body type. The twin deck lid grilles, an external fuel filler in the right front fender and larger windows are indicators.
The last revision of the 356 was the 356C which was introduced for the 1964 model year. It featured disc brakes as well as an option for the most powerful pushrod engine Porsche had ever produced, the 95 hp SC. Porsche 356 production peaked at 14,151 cars in 1964. The company continued to sell the 356C in North America through 1965 as demand for the model remained quite strong in the early days of the 911. The last ten 356’s were assembled for the Dutch police force in March 1966 as 1965 models.
The Triumph Speed Triple is a phenomenal motorcycle. In 1994, the newly launched Triumph Motorcycle Company became one of the first manufacturers of a new type of motorcycle called the Streetfighter. This new class of bike was a modern sport-bike without the plastic fairing. The new Triumph Speed Triple was first released in 1994, and was named in honor of the historic Triumph Speed Twin was called the “Speed Triple”. The original 1938 Speed Twin was powered by a 498 cc vertical twin cylinder engine, and was considered a high performance machine in its day. The new Speed Triple was based on the new Triumph Triple series of modular engines, which also powered the standard Trident, Daytona sportbike, and the Thunderbird retro bike. This engine came in two displacements as a triple; 750 cc for some European markets, and 885 cc for all other markets.
Early Speed Triples were all carbureted, and were designated T300 series bikes. 1994/1995 models came with the standard 885 cc water cooled engine and a five speed transmission. Subsequent Speed Triples all had the same engine with six speed transmissions. As with all the modular Triumphs, the T309 series Speed Triple had a very large single steel tube backbone frame, and used the engine as a stressed member. Front and rear suspension were fully adjustable, and were made by Showa. At the rear was a single monoshock with a progressive linkage, and at the front were standard hydraulic forks fitted with dual disk brakes.
Following the T309, Triumph refined the motorcycle in a series of progressively improving generations.
T509 Triumph Speed Triple
Following the T309, Triumph released the first of its new generation of fuel injected sportbikes, the T509 Speed Triple. The new bike was a total redesign of the basic concept. The all new engine still displaced 885 cc, it produced 108 horsepower and was fitted with an engine management system by SAGEM. Surrounding the new engine was an all new aluminium = chassis, and a single sided swingarm. These two new features combined with upgraded suspension components made the new Speed Triple a vast improvement over its older sibling in terms of handling.
T595 Speed Triple
For 1999 the new Speed Triple was officially upgraded to T595 status and received the bigger engine. Due to tuning differences it did not make as much power as its fully faired contemporary, but it did have a substantially broader torque curve than its T509 predecessor. This made it more forgiving to ride and began a trend back to the characteristics of the original T309 Speed Triple.
Cosmetically the T509 and the 1999 T595 Speed Triples were nearly identical, and they shared many of the same components. As such, they shared many of the same idiosyncrasies, as well as the dual headlamps and single sided swing arm. Small fairings referred to as “Bikini Fairings” were popular on these bikes, as well as other aftermarket accessories that wouldn’t normally be of use to a fully faired Sportbike.
955i Triumph Speed Triple
For the years 2000 and 2001 the Speed Triple changed little. Restyled by designer Gareth Davies, both the Speed Triple and the Daytona came to be referred to as 955i bikes. Due to its flexible engine, excellent brakes, and good handling the Speed Triple continued to impress reviewers. In 2002 there was a significant change to the engine casings of the 955i engine that decreased weight by roughly 17 pounds and the power was slightly increased. In late 2004 a small number of Special Edition Speed Triples were produced. The primary difference with this new model was an all black paint scheme, including frame, wheels, bodywork, and most engine parts.
1050 Triumph Speed Triple
In 2005 Triumph released its fourth generation Speed Triple. The engine was still the reliable fuel injected engine used since 1997, but it had been increased in capacity to 1050 cc. This was accomplished by lengthening the stroke. Also fitted was an all new Fuel injection and engine management system made by the Japanese company Keihin. Other engine modifications resulted in a claimed 129 horsepower and an even broader, flatter torque curve.