Road & Track September 2019

Road & Track includes technical features on automotive subjects, wide-ranging feature stories, spectacular automotive art and standard-setting new-car photography, humor, fiction, travel stories, book reviews and the most comprehensive racing coverage offered by a monthly magazine.Bonus: iPad Interactive

United States

in this issue

4 min
risk rewarded the thrill & agony of buying a car on the internet.

I’D BEEN LOOKING for a wagon for months. A late-model BMW 3-series, the E91 chassis, built from 2006 to 2012. Rear-wheel drive, stick shift. Just 429 were sold in the U.S. For perspective, that’s only 130 more examples than there are Porsche 918s in this country. I couldn’t find one. I scoured every car-buying site I could find. I spoke to dealers, emailed owners, solicited cars on Twitter. When one popped up, it was always too far away, too high in mileage, or the wrong color. I wasn’t just looking for a rare car, I was being picky. (Come shopping with me sometime. You’ll hate it.) Then something else showed up. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but it was special. My friend Damien Scott, the editor of Complex, emailed it…

1 min
racing in the year 3000

1 Zero-emissions nuclear cars have one drawback: every crash is a hazard site. 2 Luckily, ejector seats fling drivers safely beyond the radiation zone. Wearable airbags, inspired by ancient Michelin ads, soften the landing. 3 Forget time-wasting pit stops. Tire changes are accomplished on the fly—literally. 4 The rules state that each car “must be propelled by its wheels.” But they don’t say anything about rocket wheels. 5 Genetic engineering & the IndyCar/F1/NASCAR merger of 2989 lead to some familiar faces on the podium. 6 After a series of mistakes that could only be attributable to human error, officiating tasks have been handed over to robots. 7 Amazon is the only sponsor, because Amazon is the only company left.…

8 min
the house of pagani

THE BATHROOM sinks at Pagani Automobili’s factory outside Modena are breathtaking: deep basins sculpted from swaths of gleaming carbon fiber. The lounge chairs in the next room are carbon, too, stylish thrones that evoke Roy Eames and the starship Enterprise. An eight-foot carbon-fiber table fills the glass-walled conference room. Horacio Pagani, the 63-year-old eponymous CEO, sits at the end, relaxed. “This table is only two days old,” Pagani says through a translator, thumbing the edge. “We built it to discover how to bond carbon and wood. Nobody had done that before, so we designed the furniture and learned.” Long before setting his mind to bathroom sinks and office furniture, Pagani bet his future on carbon composites. He pioneered carbon-fiber technology at Lamborghini in the Eighties and helped develop the Countach Evoluzione, the…

3 min
the miata at 30

NO ONE BUYS a Miata to spend 32 hours crammed into the engine bay, trying and failing to figure out why the thing won’t fire. But that’s what Dad and I did over Father’s Day, practicing the only kind of communion that’s ever really worked for us: passing tools and working out the whys of a handful of cylinders. It’s an old rite. One we’ve enacted over derelict Continentals and Scouts, Suburbans and Mustangs. But never a Miata. Half the joy of the little roadster has been that it always worked, regardless of mileage or maintenance. Plenty of small convertibles managed to be lightweight, well-balanced, and cheap, but none had thrown any amount of reliability into the mix until Mazda came along. However, the Miata celebrates its 30th anniversary this year,…

7 min
driving a 150-mph lawn mower

THE QUESTION comes up at the dentist with his hands fumbling around my molars. Or standing around the last embers of a campfire, my glass empty and the whiskey curling up for a nap behind my navel. What’s the quickest thing you’ve ever driven? There’s something about that heart-stopping sprint to 100 mph that still stokes the child in everyone. They want something exotic, their minds filled with Ferraris and Lamborghinis, taut sheet-metal and dozens of pumping cylinders. They will be heartbroken when I have to look into their eyes and tell them the truth: the quickest thing I’ve ever driven is a lawn mower. Honda’s Mean Mower shares as much blood with the company’s riding lawn tractors as I do, but it’s close enough for Guinness World Records. Really, it is…

4 min
the shutdown leaving the cockpit behind.

ONE THING Lewis Hamilton has in common with every other racer is that his career will end. Mine pretty much has. Some drivers are content when they are no longer racing. Others are not. I fit into the latter category. I wish I could say you get used to it, but you don’t. My old life, full-time professional racing, ended 15 years ago. But 10 years before that, I had begun a new life as a coach; there was a purposeful overlap. Maybe “ended” is the wrong word. Some drivers officially retire and never drive a lap again. Others just fade away. Every now and then, I’m asked when I retired. I usually reply, “I haven’t yet.” There are two reasons: First, if I’m asked to drive today, I’m in. But…