I’m Jim Donnelly, and thanks for stopping by my new website, Jim Donnelly On Wheels. Some of you already know who I am. I was previously the senior editor of Hemmings Motor News in Bennington, Vermont, and before that, I held a bunch of positions at a daily newspaper in the Philadelphia area, including automotive and motorsport writer. I hold more than 50 journalism awards and have been in this life for more than 35 years. I’ve written books about my friend Don Miller, the former president of Penske Racing and a mega car guy; and one on the history of automotive advertising. What I hope to accomplish here is to share some of the stuff that I consider so worthy, inspiring and, really, life-changing. The automobile unhitched us all from the pieces of dirt we once called home. Going fast brought us thrills. Watching others compete in cars made us marvel at people with such limitless skills, determination and fortitude. Cars upended our whole existence totally and irreversibly, the same way that computers are doing today, so it’s entirely appropriate to marry the two of them here. What you’re going to find here is fresh info on what’s going on in the world of cars, what’s innovative, history that’s worth remembering, roads worth driving, races worth attending, books worth reading, cars worth buying, and maybe even some places to dine that are worth a stop when you’re out on the highways. No politics. I’ll leave that sordid topic to those who claim to know it. Let’s get rolling, because this is going to be a hell of a ride we’re going on together.
No, there’s not going to be a Porsche-backed team racing in Formula 1, but the pride of Stuttgart will very much be a part of the F1 scene again next year. Porsche and F1 have confirmed that the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, the one-marque spec support division, will be a part of eight Grand Prix weekends next year. The series matches a diverse field of drivers in 911 GT3 racing cars on some of the world’s most prominent road circuits, with people from the pinnacle of global motorsports enjoying the rollicking, competitive show.
Anymore, the Supercup teams have frequently put on a better show on road courses than many of the F1 outings they’re intended to support. Michael Ammermuller is coming off a third consecutive Supercup championship for Lechner Racing in 2019; starting fields have boasted driver lineups ranging from two-time F1 champion Mika Hakkinen to American TV actor and sometime racer Patrick Dempsey. The venues being contested by the Supercup series in 2020 will include Zandvoort, Monte Carlo, Spielberg, Austria; Silverstone, Budapest, Spa-Francorchamps, Monza, and two stops at Barcelona.
Amazon co-marketing deals are like Farrah Fawcett or Lamborghini Countach posters were back in the Seventies: They’re everywhere you look. As supporting evidence, we offer the deal just reached between Ford and the online retailing behemoth that’s set up a new Ford Bronco store on Amazon.com, in anticipation of the shortly arriving revival of the Jeep-fighting SUV from Ford. That’s a big story in its own right, but the Ford-Amazon alliance aims to serve as a clearinghouse for all things Bronco, regardless of vintage.
Besides apparel galore and scale models Broncos from the past, you can commemorate the budding Bronco-R off-road race program that’s being established around the revived vehicle with a whole range of goodies, ranging from baseball caps to smartphone cases. You can also select from a variety of Bronco scale models, including the radio-controlled version from Traxxas that’s depicted here. Perhaps more useful to collectors, the Amazon store will also serve as the portal for buying a whole range of Dennis Carpenter restoration parts for first-generation Broncos, which have been kicking up a storm on the auction circuit of late. Just point your browser toward the Bronco store on Amazon’s all-encompassing website.
For whatever reason, Jaguar adopted a Hot Wheels-themed introduction for the newest in its line of immortal sports cars, the F-TYPE, all in uppercase letters as is their recent practice. We prefer to focus on the fact that any new sporting Jaguar is an undeniably major story, given Jaguar’s generations-long standing as Great Britain’s definitive car for demanding drivers. Extensively redesigned and sporting, no pun intended, a 2021 model year for its rollout, the F-TYPE is clearly evolutionary is terms of its looks and packaging. It’s still a luscious two-seater crafted from only the most premium materials, and offers all the convenience and technology a buyer of means could possibly expect.
We’ll say this much: The F-TYPE certainly evokes the lines of the original XKE from which it takes its styling cues. Under the leadership of Jaguar design director Julian Thomson, the F-TYPE’s roots are immediately recognizable. Ultra-slim headlamps blend cleanly into the car’s new clamshell hood. A monogram pattern in the F-TYPE’s J-shaped running lights accentuates the car’s width and muscle. Interior treatments available incorporate both synthetic suede and chrome, with a 12-inch programmable HD instrument cluster positioned directly in front of the driver. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as are ergonomically optimized seats for both occupants. But this is a Jaguar, meaning that power goes all the way to the F-TYPE R’s 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 that delivers 575 horsepower, mated to Intelligent Driveline Dynamics control technologies. The chassis is based around double aluminum wishbones at each corner of the car. For the fuel conscious, a 3.0-liter V-6 with 380 horsepower is the standard engine.
This is certainly a less-than-obvious case of an automobile manufacturer recognizing a milepost in history. This year marks a half-century since the Anglo-French supersonic jetliner Concorde first took flight, and Aston Martin, which knows a thing or two about flying on the ground, decided to mark the anniversary. Limited to only 10 examples worldwide, each intensively personalized by concierge service Q by Aston Martin, the DBS Superleggera Concorde Edition commemorates not only the SST’s first flight, but also the centenary of one of the plane’s primary operators, British Airways.
The Concorde Edition is based on Aston Martin’s already existing, super-exclusive DBS Superleggera, the Italianate name a reference to its reduced weight when compared to its siblings. It’s the latest entry in Aston Martin’s ongoing Wings series of very limited-edition sporting cars, which has already seen the introduction of the Vanquish S Red Arrows Edition, the Vantage Blades Edition and the V12 Vantage S Spitfire 80. Finished in partial British Airways livery, a Concorde logo on the seat facings, seat belt buckle badges milled from billet aluminum, and a Mach Meter graphic on the driver’s sun visor. While an interesting case study in co-marketing, this is no poseur: With a 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 for power, the Concorde Edition is capable of 211 MPH as per the factory. Want one? Get in what will at least be a short line.
Bentley has marked its 100th birthday in sensational fashion, with some jaw-dropping new models, concept studies and celebrations of its storied past. As its centennial begins coming to a close, Bentley has chosen a less blazing way to mark its birthday, but one that’s deeply relevant as climate change more clearly edges toward a global emergency. In a gesture toward the future that will live forever, Bentley has planted 100 trees around the perimeter of its headquarters in Crewe, England. It’s a recognition of biodiversity’s critical importance from an automaker whose products were traditionally linked in lockstep with the most conspicuous sort of consumption.
The plantings were completed in time for this week’s observance of National Tree Week in the United Kingdom. The selection of arbor includes 10 oak trees, 15 cherry trees and a scattering of other species including maple, beech, walnut, lime and elm. The company wanted the plantings to incorporate woods whose veneers have found a decorative place in Bentley interiors for as long as the marque’s been in existence. The shockingly attractive vehicle in the Bentley image is the EXP 100 GT, the all-electric concept car that Crewe unveiled last month, which we bet has a decent chance of making it to actual production in a recognizable form.
We’ve decided that a few decades of winters in the Northeast and New England was more than enough. As of now, this place originates from a new locale in Daytona Beach, Florida, on what the natives here call the Gold Coast. It’s a place that’s chockablock with history and good times, automotive and otherwise. Motorsports put this place on the map, determinedly so, and this area is one that really venerates its past. A few nights ago, we stopped into the original Ormond Garage, which dates back to 1919, back when speed runs began taking place on the concrete-like sand of Ormond Beach. As the rekordwagens grew faster, it became clear that the beach at Ormond was too short to get them stopped safely, so the action shifted south a few miles to the longer sandy stretch at Daytona Beach. When overcrowding made the beach course obsolete as the Sixties approached, Big Bill France, who’s honored by a street in his name (as is Richard Petty) built his fabled, high-banked superspeedway a couple of miles inland.
We’re still in the business of covering cars, and we intend to stop over to Daytona International Speedway tomorrow to check out its gigantic annual Turkey Run, which plays host to about 6,000 classics, muscle cars and street rods. If you’re in town trying to escape the winter, the Run is good place to visit. Life begins anew here. Let’s enjoy the ride together. The photo, taken early on a NASCAR race morning at Daytona, was taken and provided by my friend Tom Jensen, director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.
We’re going to be offline with this site for about a week. We’ll have some significant updates for you when we go live again. As always, thanks for reading, and keep the faith.