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And the world's biggest car maker is.......

   By Mike Mulhern

   The world's best-selling car maker?
   General Motors?
   Try Volkswagen.
   According to reports out of Germany, VW – with the considerable help from the government – may have sold more cars world-wide in the first quarter of this year than its two rivals.
   Helping promote VW sales, the German government is giving new car buyers a $3250 (US) subsidy.

   Meanwhile, the fate of Chrysler and GM remains up in the air, with Chrysler facing an April 30th deadline by the federal government and GM a May 31st deadline, to come to terms on its debt.
   So people with those two companies are now waiting to see what happens next, particularly people in NASCAR racing, who describe their lives at the moment like heading down into the first turn at 180 mph with some unknown chassis setup under the car, just hoping the car sticks and makes it out the other side of the corner.
   At high-speed 'short-tracks' like Phoenix brakes are a major factor. And long-time NASCAR brake manufacturer Brembo is launching a PR campaign to show just how important:
   At this flat one-mile, for example, drivers are on the brakes 28 percent of each lap (at Martinsville, it's 35 percent of each lap; at Daytona, it's five percent). Drivers at Phoenix hit 162 mph into the first turn, and 165 mph into the third turn; they comes off turn two at 99 mph, off turn four at 104 mph. Brake rotor temps run as high as 1500 degrees.


Brakes: high-tech, secret stuff....and very expensive (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


Just how many seats do these NASCARs really have?
   That's always been an interesting question, and the International Speedway Corp., in its annual filing, lists the seating at its tracks like this:
   Daytona 159,000.
   Talladega 143,000
   Michigan 129,000
   Richmond 109,000
   California 91,000
   Kansas 80,000
   Chicago 75,000
   Phoenix 67,000
   Homestead-Miami  63,000
   Martinsville 61,000
   Watkins Glen 35,000

   Meanwhile, to try to fill those seats, NASCAR track promoters keep cutting prices. The latest is California's Gillian Zucker, putting a $35 price point out for frontstretch tickets for her Auto Club Speedway's November 500.

And then there's Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with 257,325 seats....(Photo: Indy Racing League)


Of course since racing no longer contributes to selling cars - according to some - it has been reported that VW spent in the neighborhood of $100 million on its teams in the Dakar rally, I believe has confirmed that it will be back next year, and is spending many millions on the Audi team for Le Mans. Wonder whether any of the auto industry experts in Washington are aware? Richard in N.C.

Excellent point. I need to

Excellent point. I need to check with Robby Gordon about his Dakar deal (said he had a contract with GM-Hummer through 2010).....wonder if anyone is going to invite Joe Biden to the Dover race....

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