The state of Florida has often been known to do things differently, and if a recent bill is passed by its senate, the state will now offer vanity driver’s licenses to its citizens.
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The 9th annual St. Petersburg Festivals of Speed kicked off last night across the bay in Tampa with an extravagant display of jets, boats, luxury goods and, of course, exotic cars.
As promised the list of hardware on display was outrageous, and included a Porsche GT2 RS, a Koenigsegg CCXR, a matte-white Ferrari FF, a matte-blue Maserati GranTurismo, a Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren MP4-12C and the requisite Bugatti Veyron. We even spied a modified Fisker Karma on 22-inch wheels. And of course there were numerous classics, custom bikes and even an open wheel race car.
Look for full coverage from the main event at the St. Petersburg waterfront on Sunday.
GALLERY: Festivals of Speed
Attention frat boys and country music fans: Willie Nelson’s Rolls-Royce styled golf cart will be up for auction in Palm Beach, Fla. during the upcoming auction from April 5 through 7.
Built in 1981 and given to the country music legend by his former wife, Connie, the electric-powered cart features a Rolls grille and hood ornament and body-styling to match. That’s cool, but as is true with so many other things Willie, the real fun doesn’t begin until the substances start flowing.
The miniature party-mobile has an on-board wet bar with buttons for bourbon, gin, scotch, vodka and a W for water or whiskey. The auction winner will be able to enjoy those beverages while sitting on velvet seats with “Willie” embroidery surrounded by a crest.
Anyone familiar with Florida culture will know that depending on where you are a golf cart is about as common for transportation as a traditional car. That means if the cart stays locally owned, it could be seen humming along to a tee time or just the nearest beach.
Two bags of Nelson’s personal golf bags also come with the purchase, though the drivers, putters, woods and irons are absent.
Seized by the IRS (it looks like they beat the DEA to the punch) from Nelson’s Pedernales Golf Course, the auction is set to start with no reserve.
If you have the cash and feel like one-upping Van Wilder this is probably the purchase for you.
GALLERY: Willie Nelson’s golf cart
Back in the mid 1990′s, many car manufacturers had a renewed interest in the Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance Race, especially after the McLaren F1 GTR showed what a modified road car could achieve at one of the toughest races in the world.
Soon Toyota, Nissan and Porsche came up with their own Le Mans GT1 contenders. However, the rules at the time said that in order to participate in this category, the manufacturer must build 25 road-going examples of the race cars they are competing with. Toyota and Nissan found out their race car wasn’t fast enough to win, so didn’t bother making any road cars (although Nissan did produce two R390 super cars for the streets).
Porsche on the other hand was very confident about its race car, so the company produced the required number of road-going versions of the 911 GT1. Another manufacturer that went ahead with the plan to produce road cars that look and have the performance of their race car was Mercedes-Benz.
Even though the 1998 CLK-LM was not a winning race car and was replaced by the CLR racer in 1999 (the car that infamously flipped while chasing the Toyota GT1 at the 1999 Le Mans 24-Hour race), Mercedes-Benz went ahead with producing the CLK-GTR road car. It is believed 19 coupe’s and 6 roadster models were produced in total between 2000 and 2002.
Now, one of these rare super cars is available right in our own back yard. A 2000 model CLK-GTR coupe is for sale by Ferrari Maserati of Fort Lauderdale. This silver on red example is number 17/25 and has covered just 1492-miles. This example also has the Super Sport package upgrade, which gives it the newer, more powerful 7.3-liter, V12 good for 655-hp and 580-lb/ft of torque.
So if you have $1.49-million burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy this rare exotic, which will surely inch up in value the older it gets. Plus you will surely end up with something your rich friends won’t likely have in their garages. It’s a win-win situation.
[Source: DuPont Registry]
Last October, IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon tragically passed away in a 15 car accident at the Las Vegas 300. The British-born driver had adopted St. Petersburg, Florida as his hometown, and the city has named a street Dan Wheldon Way in honor of him.
The street is found on the St. Petersburg race course and the street sign was unveiled by city mayor Bill Foster and Wheldon’s wife, Susie. Dan Wheldon Way also has significance to Wheldon’s career, found on Turn 10 of the course where Wheldon overtook Ryan Briscoe to win a race back in 2005. The ceremony took place during IndyCar’s annual media day where the vast majority of active drivers were in attendance.
“I just want to take the opportunity to thank my St. Petersburg family for all the love and support over the last several months,” Susie Wheldon said during the ceremony. “What a beautiful gift to be part of his legacy, and it’s something we can all share for years to come. Sebastian and Oliver will be so proud to know the impact their father had on this community and the world of motorsports.”
Many of Wheldon’s family and friends shared memories at the event while emotions still run high since the accident took place at the final race of the 2011 IndyCar season. There is no doubt that many will race with a heavy heart when the 2012 IndyCar season kicks off on March 25th at the Honda Grand Prix in St. Petersburg. Susie Wheldon has not yet decided whether she’ll stay in town for the race.
The 2012 season will also mark the debut of IndyCar’s new model, named the Dallara DW12 after the fact that Wheldon helped develop it last year before his tragic accident. Many have said that the new race car is much safer thanks to better technology.
For parents, babysitter nightmares don’t come any worse than this: a 23-year old woman was arrested after leaving an 8-month old baby in the back of a Dodge Ram and driving around in the back.
Keyona Davis, from—where else?—Florida, was stopped by police after witnesses spotted her sitting in the back of the truck, with the stroller and the baby inside. The driver, a Mr. White, was cited for reckless driving, but Davis got off a bit harsher—felony child neglect, to add to a rap sheet of previous charges. She is being held in jail on a $5,000 bond, and will not be getting a recommendation from the baby’s family.
Click the jump to see the police dashboard camera, which caught the vehicle in the act. To be fair, she also sat in the back of the truck with the baby and the stroller, which makes it safe! And a note to aspiring babysitters: the Subaru Brat was taken out of production for a reason.
[Source: The Smoking Gun]
Have you ever wondered what stretches of Interstate and other limited-access highways in the U.S. had the longest gaps between exits from the road? Well, TomTom has come up with a list… and you may be surprised which states made the cut.
Florida made it into the top 16 five times, with Pennsylvania coming in second with three. Also dominating this list are the toll roads.
Here are the 16 longest distances between freeway exits in the USA (Asterisk indicates exit gap exists in both directions):
1. Florida 91 (Fla. Turnpike), Exit 193 to Exit 242: 48.9 miles. *
2. Florida 91, Exit 193 to Exit 152: 40.5 miles. *
3. I-80 in Utah, Exit 4 to Exit 41: 37.4 miles. *
4. I-70 East in Pennsylvania, Exit 110 to Exit 146: 35.5 miles.
5. I-75 in Florida, Exit 80 to Exit 49: 30.6 miles. *
6. I-335 in Kansas, Exit 147 to Exit 177: 30.3 miles. *
7. I-90 in Massachusetts, Exit 3 to Exit 2: 29.9 miles. *
8.I-44 West in Oklahoma, Exit 283 to Exit 255: 28.4 miles.
9. I-40 in California, Exit 78 to Exit 50: 28.4 miles. *
10. I-44 East in Oklahoma, Exit 53 to Exit 80: 27.6 miles.
11. I-70 West in Pennsylvania, Exit 146 to Brotherton Rd. Exit: 27.3 miles.
12. I-75 North in Florida, Exit 23 to Exit 49: 26.2 miles.
13. I-70 West in Colorado, Exit 75 to Exit 49: 26 miles.
14. I-75 South in Florida Exit 49 to Exit 23: 25.7 miles.
15. I-76 in Pennsylvania, Exit 226 to Exit 201: 25 miles. *
16. I-80 in Indiana, Exit 144 to Exit 121: 23.8 miles. *
[Source: USA Today]
Ford concealed documents pertaining to a case it won in 2010, according to a Florida judge who has thrown out its verdict.
In 2003, two people were injured in a 1991 Aerostar that suddenly accelerated into a telephone pole, seriously injuring them. The case went to court in 2010, and during the trial Ford argued that it was simply a driver error (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) that caused the minivan to crash. The jury voted in Ford’s favor.
But according to the plaintiff’s lawyer, Ford withheld documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that suggested the cruise control system, not the driver’s foot, did cause and was capable of causing sudden acceleration. Judge William T. Swigert handed the victory to the plaintiffs after he found out, stating that “had Ford disclosed them, the government would have discovered years ago that electronic failures of the cruise control system is a cause of sudden acceleration.”
Unsurprisingly, Ford disagrees. They plan to appeal the case.
[Source: New York Times]
Rapper Flo Rida (real name Tramar Dillard) received a DUI in his $1.7 million black 2008 Bugatti Veyron last night, after police observed the car swerving in and out of lanes. During the 3:30 AM downtown Miami stop, the police could smell the odor of alcohol, so the rapper was given a field sobriety test and failed. Flo-Rida’s blood alcohol level was .185 which is more than twice the legal limit.
The Bugatti Veyron was loaded up onto a flatbed tow truck heading for the impound lot, when Flo’s friend managed to get approval to take possession of the vehicle.
Once arrested, the rapper was taken to a nearby station where he is currently being booked. This brings new meaning to Flo-Rida feeling “Low”.
Tim Aldrich, a Florida resident and Nissan 240SX owner, passed away in early August, 2010. Although I never knew Tim personally, he was a larger than life presence on Ziptied, an online forum that I’ve frequented for a number of years, where Tim’s ribald humor and offline friendships with a number of other Ziptied members provided fodder for countless memes, vulgar jokes and spirited arguments. Nearly all of Tim’s comments are too explicit to print, but his username, “EAT S**T, DIE SLOW” should provide you with ample indication of Tim’s sense of humor.
Offline, Tim was known as a true stand-up guy, who loved animals and shied away from drinking alcohol and other indulgences. Tim’s death at age 30 hit hard precisely because so many members had a personal relationship with him that extended beyond a keyboard. Shortly after he passed away, one member announced that Tim’s father had given permission to some of Tim’s friends to crush his Nissan 240SX.
The genesis of the idea came from Tim’s repeated distaste for the idea that his car, or any part of it, should fall into the hands of a teenaged wannabe drifter who would defile his car by crashing it during a lame attempt at emulating their D1 heroes, or modifying it in a way that Tim would find offensive. Rather than sell the car and have it end up in the wrong hands, Tim’s friends decided to crush the car and videotape the proceedings.
A variety of ideas were bounced around Ziptied, with some suggesting the car be chopped into pieces, others commenting that Tim’s long standing wish of being “f***ing buried in this car” be honored. In the end, one member’s idea of having a backhoe trample the car won out.
Yes, the car was crushed with the RP-F1′s on it, but again, it was done in accordance with Tim’s wishes, and with the blessing of his family. In the end, the motor and transmission were sold, with the proceeds going to Tim’s family, but everything else was mangled in a final tribute to a dear friend of many in the Tampa Bay area, and online. Video of the ceremony can be seen after the jump.
Donations to the Tim Aldrich memorial fund can be made here, with proceeds going to the SPCA
Video after the jump
On Sunday, June 20th, Hernando County, Florida resident Christopher Bishop was inspecting the underbelly of his Ford F-150 for oil and fluid leaks. However, before crawling underneath, Bishop, 43, had left the driver’s door open and the transmission in neutral. At the time, his pet, a hyperactive Bulldog named Tassey was also roaming around free while Bishop was underneath the truck. Suddenly, Tassey bounded into the front seat of the pickup and started jumping around, enough in fact to bang the truck into gear, causing it roll forward and over the left side of Bishop’s body as he lay underneath.
According to a police report filed by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Bishop was able to get up, jump into the F-150 and stop it before it hit the fence next to his mobile home. He managed to shut the truck off and go inside his house, but after several hours of severe pain, finally placed a call to the hospital and was dispatched to Pasco Regional with non life threatening injuries. Asked why he waited so long to seek medical assistance, Bishop replied, “I don’t like doctors.”
[Source: St. Petersburg Times]
With so many people falling on hard times in this economy, some folks will do anything to earn a buck. That includes faking a car accident to make ends meet.
According to a recent report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), questionable claims (QC) resulting from staged accidents have increased 46 percent from 2007 through 2009. On a somewhat positive note, legitimate insurance claims have shrunken a bit, but this is only because there are fewer cars on the road, a by-product of fewer jobs.
What makes this type of crime so popular is that unless someone becomes suspicious, many of these staged accidents go undetected. Along with the fact that it’s a criminal offence and they defraud insurance companies out of millions of dollars (which in turn raises the premiums for the rest of us), staged accidents often involve innocent victims who are obeying the law, and can result in serious injury and death.
Florida takes the lead in all states with 3,006 QCs in 2009, with New York following in second with 1,680. Rounding out the top five are California (1,619), Texas (792) and Illinois (433). Out of the top offending cities, New York City leads the way, but Florida comes in strong with three offending cities (Tampa, 562; Miami, 511; and Orlando, 422). Houston closes out the list with 376 QCs.
The NICB has created a series of videos that get the message across by demonstrating some of the most common types of staged accidents. You can watch them at www.nicb.org.
Official release after the jump: