For the second time in a row here at Afterburner. Our year started off with a drive up to Detroit, Michigan for the North American International Auto Show. For 2017, not much has changed in the automotive world since the last time we roamed the halls of the Cobo Center. So, we thought we’d put out a more focused set of photos for you guys to view this year. As the title says, here are a collection of the more motorsports focused vehicles that were on display from the gaggle of manufacturers who filled the convention center. Enjoy!
Ford had their GTE-Pro class winning car from last year’s 24 Hour of Le Mans on display for all to see. All the debris and damage it earned from fighting some of the best cars in the world was worn like a badge of honor. With it was the trophy lifted by it’s drivers after finishing the grueling race. As an American, I am very unashamed to say that I am proud of what the Ford Motor Company and their motorsports division were able to accomplish in this car’s first year of competition.
As a motorsports enthusiast though. I really hope that their competitors will be able to put up an even better fight this year. With all the different manufacturers in competition now a days. The battles are closer and more exciting than ever.
Through the crowds surrounding the Volkswagen booth at the far end of the convention center, I spotted a familiar, cherry red shape peeking through the holes in the group of people.
Attending a Global Rallycross event has been on my to do list for sometime now. After attending Sno* Drift rally last year. I’ve been wanting to see what some truly unhinged rally cars looked like in action. Having only seen a couple of these in person. I had never seen the Beetle that Volkswagen uses for North American rallycross. This one driven by Scott Speed of Andretti Autosport does not disappoint.
Sporting all the battle scars from it’s last event in Los Angeles. This car was truly a sight to behold. I can’t imagine what a group of them tearing around a GRC track must be like.
Mazda had another one of their Global MX-5 cup cars on display this year. This time with hard top in place. It’s still amazes me how cheap you can get what is essentially a factory built racing car. As a starting point for getting a serious racing career together. It’s a very good place to embark from.
While there wasn’t much else worth mentioning. Toyota did have a couple interesting cars parked in the far back corner of their booth. Situated in a pack of their SEMA builds from this past year was this example of what a GT86 cup car could look like. Built by TMG (Toyota Motorsports Group) in Europe. The car is being used as a sort of “what if”. Using all parts developed by TMG, it’s just Toyota tooting their own horn at Mazda with their Mx-5 cup car. While no plans are in place at the moment to actually produce these cars and organize a series. We really hope Toyota gets their heads dislodged from their rears and puts this project into motion.
Finally, to the car we were most interested in. Another SEMA build from Toyota. This new Prius was built by Evasive Motorsports in California in conjunction with Kuhl Racing. Yes, a Prius. Built as a pseudo time attack car. The hybrid was sporting a full Kuhl Racing body kit and a custom exhaust with four burnt tips.
The driver sits in a stripped interior. Surrounded by a full roll cage, made by Evasive. It’s all gusseted and serves as protection for the operator. Sitting in an assortment of Sparco products. The vitals of the factory drive train (yes it’s still the same motor and hybrid system the car comes with from the factory) are monitored with an Aim digital dash display. While various carbon and rolled metal pieces adorn the rest of the interior. Filling the gaps created by the roll cage. The interior looked to be a pretty pleasant place to be.
The footwork comes courtesy of Rays/Volk Te37 SL wheels, our favorite here at Afterbuner. Wrapped in Toyo R888 rubber and sprung on Tein coilovers. Brembo six pot calipers and rotors are tasked with bringing the car to a stop.
Who knows how the car would actually do in competition out on track. However. It serves as a really good example of what can be done to a Prius to make it, dare I say it, cool. While I don’t see people rushing to Toyota dealers to pick up one for track duty here in the near future. It definitely shows that, even with hybrid technology becoming the norm. The race car will always evolve to fit whatever powers it around the track.
That’s it from our coverage of NAIAS 2017. While it isn’t as much as we did last year. We had a lot of fun roaming the halls of the Cobo Center once again. While it’s uncertain if we’ll be returning next year. We look forward to the new, more track focused vehicles manufacturers will be running this coming season.