History Channel Documentary on Detroit and Michigan Central Station Airs This Sunday

A video documentary titled 'Detroit: Comeback City' will air on the History Channel this Sunday, July 1.

The heartfelt story of many Detroiters will be narrated by popular American actor and Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons, who will dive deep into Detroit's turnaround story as it goes from being one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the United States to a rising metropolis that now attracts top talent from business and individuals alike.

The documentary will also take a long, hard look at the iconic Michigan Central Station, which opened in 1913 and was the tallest rail station in the world. For many of those visiting the Motor City, Michigan Central was a testament to a grand city on the rise. For over 75 years, the depot welcomed guests with a grandiose structure clad with marble floors, bronze chandeliers, and 68-foot Corinthian columns. The original architects, who also designed New York's Grand Central Station, got their inspiration from European aesthetics, as the waiting rooms were even modeled after public baths in ancient Rome.

As this sneak peek shows, the larger-than-life building was a symbol of Detroit's social decay, poverty, and corruption. The building was owned by the Moroun family for more than two decades until it was recently announced that Ford Motor Company purchased it for an undisclosed amount of money. The 105-year-old, 18-floor structure will serve as the centerpiece of Ford's vibrant Corktown neighborhood campus that will house the company’s autonomous and electric vehicle teams, in addition to other developing technologies.

New Stealth Tanker Model Is Touted By Air Force Research Lab At Aviation Conference

The need for more survivable tankers is becoming a pressing issue in the dawning age of anti-access and area-denial warfare. America has built the backbone of its air combat force around fuel-thirsty fighters that are addicted to tanker gas. In potential future conflicts, having existing airliner-based tankers approach within 500 or so miles of enemy targets will likely entail immense risk. Outfitting tankers with situational awareness-enhancing avionics and sensors, electronic warfare systems, and even kinetic-kill defensive systems and high-power lasers are ways to approach this problem. But shooting down incoming missiles as they approach with exotic close-in defenses or avoiding enemy threats altogether by running from them are hardly attractive solutions to this problem.

Another more robust way is to field a stealthy tanker that can move far closer to target sets with 5th generation fighters and stealthy drones in tow. Such an aircraft could also benefit from the aforementioned systems as well, including kinetic-kill interceptors, making it even more survivable. You are unlikely to find a more thorough case for fielding such an aircraft than the one we published in 2017, which you can read here. Fast forward to over a year later and now the Air Force Research Lab is showing off a model of a somewhat familiar stealthy tanker-transport design without any real explanation.

The model, which looks like a variation of Lockheed's 'Speed Agile' concept, titled "Advanced Aerial Refueling" was noticed by Aviation Week's Guy Norris in the Air Force Research Lab's area at the 2018 AIAA Aviation forum that took place in Atlanta this week. According to Guy, this model also included a flying-wing UCAV being refueled off its boom.

A year ago, another stealthy tanker-transport model was displayed by Lockheed at a similar trade show and forum. Clearly, models don't necessarily mean anything definitive, but the appearance of this model now does point to an ongoing interest in the stealth tanker concept if not some kind of program to develop one.

In a recent interview with leadership players within the USAF's tanker community, one officer alluded to a more survivable tanker capability that may be on the horizon. That entire expose will be published on Monday, but I thought this was an interesting statement that I didn't notice at the time of the interview, but will be following up on.

And of course, a stealthy tanker transport could have more applications than just pumping gas closer to enemy territory than a traditional airliner-based alternative. We have heard some chatter that the USAF and Special Operations Command may have finally joined forces to develop a stealthy tanker-transport.

Special Operations Command still relies on low-level penetration tactics to insert special operations teams deep into enemy territory, at least as far as we know. Beyond the stealthy Black Hawks used on the Bin Laden raid, which have limited range and still relied on low-level flying to accomplish their mission, along with reports of enhanced stealth helicopter designs that have followed, there is no other platform that can insert operators onto land over contested airspace.

A stealthy transport that flies at jet speeds could provide such a capability. We detail all this in our big stealth tanker article, and it's not as if the special operations community hasn't been pining for such an aircraft for decades. Rumors regarding multiple black projects aimed at obtaining such a capability have existed over the decades, including one code-named 'Senior Citizen' that was supposed to provide a stealthy, short takeoff and landing transport, at least in an experimental capacity.

Another initiative named Special Operations Forces Aircraft, or SOFTA, also was at least deeply studied in the late 1980s with Burt Rutan participating in the program. Since then, the Osprey has become operational and does provide an aircraft capable of VTOL operation and low-level penetration. But something that can provide a higher-flying and stealthy alternative that is capable of delivering larger payloads over longer ranges remains highly relevant.

In fact, our own Joseph Trevithick wrote the following about a quiet 2009 initiative to field a stealthy special operations plane:

By 2009, the Air Force’s commando headquarters had started looking at acquiring a stealthy transport plane to make infiltrating hostile areas a safer proposition. Dubbed “Project IX,” the proposed plane would have filled multiple “gaps and shortfalls” in existing aircraft such as the Combat Talon, according to the Air Force.

...

While the flying branch didn’t have a specific design in mind, it did have very clear requirements for what would be a brand-new plane. The aircraft’s primary missions would be sneaking commandos into defended territory, bringing them supplies if necessary and then getting them out safely — just like the MC-130H does.

Crews would be able to do so regardless of the time of day, the temperature or the weather. The plane would even function under chemical, biological or nuclear attack.

Most importantly, the new plane would take advantage of “low-observable” technology — in other words, it would be stealthy. A radar-evading shape would be central to the design. Like the Air Force’s upcoming B-21 bomber, the project would require the utmost secrecy.

“There are lessons learned and precedents for such responsibility regarding other specialized aircraft (F-117, B-2, F-22, etc.),” the report explains. “Project IX will take full advantage of them.”

Not surprisingly, the aircraft would get top-of-the-line communications equipment, powerful radars and video cameras and other special gear. The proposed crew of three — pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster — might grow in order to fly spy missions.

A graphic in the report features nondescript black silhouettes to depict the Project IX planes in their larger context. No other art is present in the declassified portions of the document.<a href=" />

The secret aircraft would also be loaded with electronic warfare gear to help it survive in the most intensive anti-access environments. This program seemed to go dark around the turn of the decade, but considering the Pentagon's experience leveraging stealth technology during the raid against Bin Laden in Pakistan and the looming threat from peer competitors, it would be hard to believe that the idea just melted away fully.

But regardless of what exactly is in the works and what remains just a concept, the USAF is becoming ever more focused on their tanker vulnerability problem. And that affliction will only get worse as enemy anti-access capabilities extend their reach and as the qualitative advantage that the U.S. has overwhelmingly enjoyed continues to erode. Since the U.S. will not invest in longer-ranged tactical air power, and especially in unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs)—at least not on a grand scale—the only other option will be to harden traditional tanker's own defenses or build a tanker in such a way that can deny the enemy the ability to target and successfully engage it.

We have reached out to the Air Force Research Laboratory yesterday for comment about the model and the stealth tanker initiative as a whole and are still waiting to hear back.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

Now Indian Motorcycle is Considering Moving Some Production Overseas

In the same week that Indian Motorcycle released a video proudly celebrating building its 100,000th engine at the Osceola, Wisconsin assembly plant, the brand says that it’s considering moving some of its production overseas. Unsurprisingly, Indian Motorcycle cites the same reason that Harley-Davidson does for confirming its shift to more overseas production: New tariffs on American-made motorcycles coming into the E.U.

But it’s not a done deal quite yet. It’s an idea that Indian is kicking around and examining whether it would be the right move for the brand. "The recent EU retaliatory tariffs have required us to expend time, energy and resources to evaluate mitigation plans, including the possibility of moving production of Indian Motorcycles destined for Europe from Iowa to our facility in Poland," said Indian Motorcycle spokeswoman Jess Rogers to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Indian Motorcycle is owned by Polaris Industries and Polaris has a factory in Opole, Poland where it makes some of its off-road vehicles. The Poland factory opened in 2014 and has the capacity for up to 500 employees.

"The growing impact of this trade war is increasing the production costs of our vehicles. We continue to examine various options for managing the cost increases from both tariffs and the domestic materials pricing," said Rogers.

Like with Harley-Davidson, if this production shift were to be confirmed, the Indian motorcycles produced in Poland would only be for foreign markets to avoid tariffs on U.S.-built bikes being imported into the E.U. All of the Indian bikes sold here in the U.S. will continue to be built here at home. As of this writing, Indian Motorcycle still does all of its production in the U.S. which is a point of pride for many of its riders and employees.

USAF Fighter And Bomber Crews Get Modified M4 Rifles That Fit Under Ejection Seats

For the first time in decades, U.S. Air Force fighter jet and bomber pilots are getting a new survival rifle, the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon, a variant of the AR-15/M16 pattern design that breaks in half and fits inside a standard survival kit. These aviators would have previously had to rely on pistols or even knives to defend themselves if they ever had to eject over hostile territory.

The Air Force is making the self-defense guns in house by converting standard 5.56x45mm M4 carbines at a rate of 100 per week, according to The Firearm Blog, which was first to report the development. The gunsmiths at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas, home of the Air Force Security Forces Center, expect to turn out more than 2,100 of the rifles in total and have already delivered some to combat-coded units.

The guns are “designed for all combat-coded ejection aircraft,” U.S. Air Force Major Docleia Gibson, a spokesperson for Air Combat Command, told Air Force Times in a later report. It, along with “four full magazines, 30 rounds [each], must all fit in the ejection seat survival kit,” she added.

One of the new Aircrew Self Defense Weapons.

Gibson also said that the Air Force had officially designated the gun as the GAU-5/A, but the service already applied this designation during the Vietnam War-era to a variant of the original M16 rifle. This gun had a 10-inch barrel, which is shorter than present-day M4 with its 14.5-inch long barrel. There was also a GAU-5A/A with an 11.5-inch barrel. The Air Force primarily issued these guns to security personnel guarding planes and facilities on the ground.

Starting in the 1990s, the Air Force began converting both of these weapons into an evolving configuration that was increasingly similar to the M4, called the GUU-5/P, a story I have written about in detail in the past. It is possible that the Air Force has decided to refer to the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon as a subvariant of the GAU-5/A, but then its correct designation would be GAU-5B/A.

Airmen work on an ejection seat survival kit, which will now contain a break-apart rifle.

Regardless of the nomenclature, this rebooted GAU-5/A appears to share very little with its predecessors. The biggest change is the addition of a special locking system from a company called Cry Havoc Tactical that holds the barrel assembly onto the rest of the gun.

Cry Havoc Tactical claims that a trained individual can install the front end of a weapon with their system and fire their first round within 60 seconds. The user does not need any special tools to put their gun together, which you can see in the video below.

But otherwise, the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon appears to have same basic dimensions of the M4 in its firing configuration. The gun uses the same “direct impingement” operating mechanism found on other AR-15/M16 type guns, which means that after the shooter fires a round, some gas propelling the bullet gets filtered off to cycle the action to fire again.

The arrangement blows any unburnt gunpowder and other particulate matter straight into the inner workings of the gun, which can build up and cause malfunctions if the user doesn’t clean it regularly. Various elements across the U.S. military, especially the U.S. Marine Corps, have increasingly switched to derivatives of the AR-15/M16 pattern that use the gas to move a physical piston instead.

US Air Force Security Forces personnel with a mix of GAU-5/As, at left, and GUU-5/Ps during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

The gun features folding front and rear “iron sights” rather than an optic of some kind, which is likely a product of the need to fit inside the 16-by-14-by-3.5-inch dimensions of the aircrew survival kit. It is possible that the Air Force could include a small, non-magnifying sighting system of some kind in the future that a pilot could attach after reassembling their gun.

However, it could be difficult to ensure that the detachable sight would remain properly aligned with either the gun or the individual shooter. The weapon does have attachment points for optics and various accessories on top and on all side of the handguard.

The limited sights, along with the ballistic limitations of the 5.56x45mm round when combined with a shorter barrel, something you can read about in more detail here, could reduce the ability of the gun to accurately hit targets at even moderate ranges or neutralize them if it does. The Air Force would only say the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon is effective against enemies “beyond” 650 feet away, according to Air Force Times.

The Air Force has been working on this latest project since at least 2017. But the final product is much different from the concept it showed in a briefing at the National Defense Industry Association’s annual Armament Systems Forum & Firing Demonstration that year.

A 2017 USAF Air Force briefing slide showing a notional

This gun featured a much shorter barrel than the standard M4 and an Sig Sauer arm brace rather than a traditional buttstock. This would have allowed the shooter to stabilize the weapon by strapping it to their forearm or use it as a regular stock if necessary.

All of this would make sense given the obvious desire to keep the size and the weight of the overall weapon down. It is curious that they decided to go with a longer overall gun, especially when there are a myriad short-barrel AR-15/M16 types and derivatives – such as the Sig Sauer MCX that Jordan's King Abdullah II is wielding in the video below – readily available both as complete guns and as conversion kits.

The final design could have been based on a requirement to be able to engage targets at longer distances, but if this was the case the Air Force could have decided to use a different caliber that's more effective when combined with a short barrel. The best known is alternative would be .300 Blackout, which Advanced Armament Corporation first created in the late 2000s specifically for use in AR-15/M16 type weapons and derivatives equipped with sound suppressors.

The company found that the round also worked particularly well in unsuppressed, short-barreled guns. One test demonstrated that an AR-15 with a 9-inch barrel in .300 Blackout with had the same muzzle energy as a 5.56x45mm M4 carbine with its 14.5-inch barrel.

An Air Force Security Forces airman with a standard M4 carbine during a training exercise.

AAC originally designed two basic types of the ammunition, one a supersonic 125 grain round and the other a 200 grain subsonic type specifically for firearms with sound suppressors. The former had ballistics similar to the to the Soviet-era 7.62x39mm cartridge. Since then, various companies have begun building their own .300 Blackout cartridges using various bullets and powder charges seeking to create optimal performance in different situations.

In addition, 5.56x45mm and .300 Blackout have the same case head size and taper, which means that in AR-15/M16 type guns, switching from one round to the other can be as simple as swapping out the barrel. The two types of ammunition can use the same magazines, as well.

With similar requirements in mind, U.S. Special Operations Command recently announced it would conduct field trials with a small number of guns based on the Sig Sauer MCX Rattlers. This is a a seriously compact weapon in .300 Blackout and the SOCOM's requirements included the need for a conversion kit that could use any existing M4 lower receiver.

This combination would seem to fit the ejection seat survival kit size requirements perfectly. It is possible that the Air Force went with a modified M4 as a cost-saving measure and to reduce strains on the logistics system by using as many common parts and ammunition as possible.

Another option would have been to abandon the idea of using a rifle caliber weapon entirely in favor of a more purpose-built person defense weapon, such as the FN P90 or Heckler and Koch MP7. These guns are already in service in the U.S. special operations forces and other government agencies, such as the U.S. Secret Service.

Heckler and Koch's MP7 personal defense weapon.

Pistol-caliber personal defense weapons or compact submachine guns would have been another possibility and one that would've allowed the Air Force to maintain ammunition commonality with other existing weapons. In 2015, after ISIS terrorists in Syria brutally murdered a Jordanian fighter pilot who had to eject over that country, the Dutch Air Force began issuing the diminutive 9mm MP9 personal defense weapon to aircrews in the region. The U.S. Army recently announced it was looking to buy a weapon in this category for personal security details, as well.

Of course, any new rifles are much more effective than a 9mm pistol, but a downed aviator’s primary objective is to avoid detection until they are either rescued or they can evade and escape to safety. The new self-defense rifle is more multi-purpose than the survival weapons the Army and later the Air Force issued to aircraft crews during World War II and early in the Cold War, which were more suited to hunting small animals for food, but could also be a burden for a downed and possibly injured pilot to carry for protracted periods of time.

This isn't the first time the Air FOrce has tried to come up with a weapon that might be more useful in a combat situation, but that could fit inside a survival kit, either. In the 1960s and 1970s that service experimented with a bizarre looking gun, commonly called the “arm pistol,” that fired standard 5.56x45mm ammunition from an impressively small package.

A drawing showing an early prototype of the GUU-4/P

The gun, eventually known as the GUU-4/P, proved difficult to aim and shoot and never saw widespread use. Subsequent versions made their way onto the U.S. commercial market, but never saw major sales and are long out of production. If the videos on YouTube are any indication, no one can decide how to hold the guns while firing them, underscoring why they never made it into Air Force service.

But while the risks of Air Force jets getting shot down during America’s present conflicts in places such as Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan are limited, that danger is growing. Small nations and even non-state actors are increasingly more capable of challenging opposing air forces.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen shot down one of the Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper drones in October 2017. Syrian insurgents brought down a Russian Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft over that country in February 2018. In that case, the pilot ejected, but killed himself and a number of militants with a grenade after an ensuing skirmish on the ground.

U.S. military aviation accidents have soared recently, too. Just in June 2018, the Air Force briefly grounded all of its B-1B bombers because of a problem with their ejection seats.

This could put pilots in just as much danger if they have trouble over a conflict zone. The aforementioned incident involving the Jordanian pilot over Syria is a good example. During the U.S.-led intervention in Libya in 2011, an F-15E Strike Eagle crashed in that country due to a technical issue and rescuing forces mistook a crowd of locals eager to help for a violent mob.

Civilians stand on the wreck of a US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle that crashed in Libya in 2011

The United States has also recently renewed its focus on preparing for potential high-end conflicts with a larger, conventional adversary, such as Russia or China. In that scenario, Air Force aviators could find themselves at increase risk of having to eject behind enemy lines and defend themselves for at least some amount of time.

The steady proliferation of increasingly capable air defenses could make it difficult for traditional combat search and rescue parties to get to a crash site quickly, if at all. Fifth generation fighter jets and advanced stealthy bombers will, by definition, be flying into areas where existing rescue aircraft and helicopters will be unable to follow. This could be a particularly important driving factor in the Air Force's decision to rapidly field the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon.

But whatever the circumstances Air Force fighter and bomber pilots find themselves in now and in the near future, they’ll have the added peace of mind knowing that they have a little extra firepower under their ejection seats.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

McLaren 570S Spider Sells for $948,000 at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation’s Argento Ball

McLaren announced Friday that the custom 570S Spider it donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation for the Argento Ball fundraiser sold for $948,000. All proceeds from the auction, which took place at Sir Elton John and David Furnish's home in Berkshire, England June 27, went to the foundation to help reduce the spread of HIV.

While the ball hosted the likes of Ed Sheeran and Graham Norton, the winning bid went to an anonymous West Coast U.S. resident. In addition to a new supercar, the winner will receive an exclusive tour of McLaren's Technology Center in Woking, England, guided by brand ambassador and Bruce McLaren's daughter Amanda McLaren.

The car itself is highly optioned, featuring a hand-sprayed Blade Silver to celebrate the foundation's silver anniversary. McLaren Orange carbon ceramic brake calipers peek out from behind the car's Stealth-finished 10-spoke lightweight alloy wheels, and McLaren even threw in its new Sports Exhaust to make that 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 sing. The interior sports Jet Black Nappa leather seats with matching Carbon Black stitching and a 10-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system perfect for blasting "Rocket Man" before hitting warp speed on the highway.

Thanks in part to the sale of this bespoke McLaren, the Argento Ball auction raised about $5.5 million in total for the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) Wednesday. EJAF not only finds ways to stop the spread of HIV and lessen the condition of AIDS, but also reduce the negative stigma associated with those suffering from the deadly disease. The foundation has helped raise almost $400 million and reaches more than 26 countries where the disease is rampant.

You too can get your hands on a car like this but you won't have to pay nearly seven figures for it, as a regular McLaren 570S Spider retails for "only" $208,000.

Las Vegas Provides No Payday for NASCAR in Exchange for Awards Banquet

NASCAR announced in late May the dates and locations for its 2018 season-end awards banquets including the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards ceremony Nov. 29 at Wynn Las Vegas, and the annual joint banquet for the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck series Dec. 8 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. A recent ESPN report revealed the return of the Cup Series banquet to Las Vegas comes despite the sanctioning body not receiving $400,000 from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, as it has the last three years.

"NASCAR will arrive in Las Vegas already down around $400,000, as NASCAR won't receive a penny for bringing its postseason celebration,” the ESPN article stated.

Instead, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority gave Speedway Motorsports Inc. a $2.5 million annual incentive to attract a second NASCAR weekend anchored by the Cup Series to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. SMI, the parent company of LVMS, received permission from NASCAR to shift one of its dates from another one of its tracks, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, to LVMS. As a result, in 2018, in addition to hosting the third race of the 36-race season, the Las Vegas track also hosts the first race of the 10-race playoffs on Sept. 16.

Las Vegas has hosted a NASCAR Champion’s Week, culminating in the premier-series awards banquet, since 2009 with the Wynn playing host to the awards ceremony each of those years. Fan-friendly festivities at multiple locations on the Las Vegas Strip, including a victory lap and question-and-answer sessions involving playoff drivers, have dotted the calendar in the days leading up to the banquet since the event moved to Las Vegas.

Previously, the end-of-season awards ceremony was hosted by the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. New York never paid NASCAR to host the event. The Waldorf-Astoria had hosted the event since 1981.

Lewis Hamilton Quickest in Austrian Grand Prix Practice

Hamilton ended both Friday free practice sessions on top, improving his pace-setting 1:04.839 to 1:04.579 from first to second practice, and increasing his advantage on Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas from 0.127 to 0.176 of a second.

While Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen ended the first session at the Red Bull Ring in third place, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel—Hamilton's closest championship rival—claimed third in FP2. The German was 0.236 down on Hamilton, but 0.216 ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who slightly edged team-mate Verstappen in second practice.

Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen, who went into the weekend dodging questions about a rumored move to McLaren in 2019, closed out both sessions in sixth as last of the runners of Formula 1's top three teams. Interestingly, Hamilton set his fastest time on the soft tire, whereas the rest of the top six did so on either of the supersoft or ultrasoft tires—which are (theoretically) quicker.

Behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, Romain Grosjean ended up as best of the rest for the American Haas F1 Team in both FP1 and FP2. The practice sessions were run in dry circumstances, despite the threat of rain with a few drops at the beginning of the afternoon. The biggest incident came in practice two, when Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly damaged his front suspension on one of the so-called 'sausage' curbstones, landing the Frenchman in the gravel.

Following a brief red flag period, the session was restarted, with Gasly rejoining the action later after his car was returned and repaired. He finished ninth, with Haas' Kevin Magnussen in eighth in between Gasly and Grosjean, and McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne completing the top ten in free practice two.

Meanwhile, there was a multitude of brief off-track excursions, with drivers either missing their braking points or taking to the curbs, or run-off a little too enthusiastically, which in some cases led to some damage to the floor or bodywork. McLaren's Fernando Alonso, for instance, spent a significant amount of time in the pits with a damaged floor in FP2. Teammate Vandoorne previously damaged his front wing in FP1 and had a near-miss in the pits in second practice when his team released him into Vettel's path. The incident prompted an $11,645 fine for McLaren as a result of the unsafe pit release.


Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo Sets All-Time Nurburgring Lap Record at 5:19.55

Destroying the previous record of 6:11.13 that stood for 35 years, Timo Bernhard lapped the Nurburgring in just 5:19.55 behind the wheel of a Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo Le Mans car. The previous record was held by Stefan Bellof and a Porsche 956 C.

This new lap time is a huge landmark for having broken such a long-standing record at the world-famous track. Timo Bernhard was the man for the job being a five-time winner of the Nurburgring 24-hours and two-time winner of Le Mans 24-hours with plenty of experience with the Porsche 919.

“This is a great moment for me and for the entire team—the 919 programme’s icing on the cake. The Evo was perfectly prepared and I have done my best on this lap. Thanks to the aerodynamic downforce, at sections I never imagined you can stay on full throttle. I’m pretty familiar with the Nordschleife. But today I got to learn it in a new way,” said the 37-year-old endurance racing veteran.

The Porsche 919 Evo that accomplished this incredible time is a modified version of the 919 race car that won the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Since it’s just being used to go around breaking lap records (including Spa earlier this year), it no longer needs to meet FIA regulations and it’s been modified to just be as fast as possible. The result is total horsepower from the hybrid drivetrain being turned up to 1160 and a 50 percent increase in downforce. The Evo weighs 1,871 pounds, reached a top speed of 229.5 mph at the ‘Ring with the record-setting lap having an average speed of 145.3 mph.

Watch the incredible onboard video below.

Former NASCAR Driver Brennan Poole Sues Chip Ganassi Racing, Spire Sports

Former NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Brennan Poole is suing his former team, Chip Ganassi Racing, and his former management agency, Spire Sports and Entertainment, claiming that they conspired to take away his DC Solar sponsorship and moving it to CGR’s No. 42 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team of driver Kyle Larson.

"Spire unfairly, illegally and fraudulently procured the diversion and misappropriation of Brennan Poole's primary sponsor, DC Solar, from Brennan Poole to CGR, also a client of Spire,” a document relating to the suit said, according to an ESPN report.

Poole drove a No. 48 entry for Chip Ganassi Racing fulltime in the Xfinity Series in 2016 and 2017. In 2015, he ran a partial series schedule for the now-defunct HScott Motorsports through a partnership with CGR. All 83 of his Xfinity Series-career starts came with sponsorship backing from DC Solar. When Poole was released from Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of the 2017 season, the DC Solar sponsorship was moved to the No. 42 in the Cup Series for 2018. According to the complaint Poole filed in North Carolina Superior Court, he brought the DC Solar sponsorship to Chip Ganassi Racing.

Poole claims Chip Ganassi Racing received a total of $13.2 million to field an Xfinity Series car for him between 2015 and 2017. He also claims clauses in his contract with the race team prevented DC Solar from remaining with CGR without his consent. The amount in damages sought by Poole in his suit are not specified in the court documents.

Poole claims he paid Spire a total of $67,416 between September 2014 through December 2017, but his potential deals to race elsewhere were sabotaged by Spire’s misrepresentation of potential deals with other race teams. For example, after expressing a desire to move from Chip Ganassi Racing to JR Motorsports after the 2015 season, Poole said he was told by Spire that JR Motorsports wanted $7.5 million in sponsorship to provide a ride for him in 2016, but the actual price was less than half the amount. Poole also claimed he was led by Spire to believe that if he stayed with Chip Ganassi Racing, he would inherit the No. 1 Cup Series car, also fielded by CGR, in 2017, upon driver Jamie McMurray’s retirement. McMurray has not retired; he still drives the No. 1 CGR entry in the Cup Series in 2018.

Poole also accused Spire of misleading DC Solar to keep its sponsorship investments with Chip Ganassi Racing by telling DC Solar a 2018 sponsorship deal with Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series would cost $15 million, even though that team only asked for $10 million. Another claim by Poole related to RCR is that Richard Childress Racing expressed interest in Poole driving an RCR-fielded Cup car in 2018, but according to Poole, he was told by Spire that no Cup Series team showed interest in hiring him.

Poole also alleges a conflict of interest when Spire signed on as a consultant for Chip Ganassi Racing’s sponsorship search for Larson’s No. 42 Cup Series entry.

Chip Ganassi Racing and Spire Sports and Entertainment declined The Drive’s request for comment. His career stats in the Xfinity Series include eight top-fives and 36 top-10 finishes.

Poole has not competed in any of NASCAR’s three national series since the 2017 Xfinity Series season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Tesla Opens Model 3 Orders to Reservation Holders

Tesla Model 3 reservation holders have received an email saying that the time has come to design and order their cars, reports CNBC.

"Design and order your Model 3 today for delivery in as soon as 2-4 months," says the email.

Upon placing the order, an additional $2,500 deposit will be required, in addition to the $1,000 reservation already paid. Both of these will be put toward the purchase price of the car, and are not added fees. Additionally, once the order is placed, the $1,000 reservation is no longer refundable. Buyers can cancel their orders within three days for a full refund, but no refunds will be issued after that.

Some have criticized Tesla for demanding more money from reservation holders, even while Model 3 production remains far short of the 5,000 car per week goal CEO Elon Musk desires, despite running the production line 24/7. But a Tesla spokesperson told The Drive that this two-step process, charging one fee for a reservation plus a second fee to actually place the order, has been Tesla's standard practice with its other models as well. When the more expensive Model X was introduced, a $5,000 reservation deposit was required, in contrast to $1,000 for the Model 3. As early demand for any new Tesla model is met, reservation deposits are no longer required. The Model S and X also require the same $2,500 deposit to place the order as the Model 3.

In all cases, these deposits go directly toward the purchase price, the spokesperson emphasized, and are not additional charges. Every Tesla is custom made to each owner's specification, and these deposits help fund this customization process. There are no "off-the-lot" Teslas. This practice isn't much different from other auto manufacturers who require a deposit for a custom-built car rather than one bought straight off their lots.

Reservation holder response was positive, despite the delays and long wait to place their orders. To them, the Model 3 so far seems to be worth the wait. Plus, some orders are already being fulfilled. I've personally been seeing more and more Model 3s on the road lately in the suburbs of Boston, far from the Fremont, California factory.

The email also teased the Model 3 Performance, a fully loaded, twin-motor, all-wheel-drive version of the Model 3 that can do zero-to-60 in 3.5 seconds. There's no word yet whether this will offer a Ludicrous Mode or go to plaid.