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The TACH Report: Vasser Tops 232 mph at Fontana, Mercedes-Benz Pulls Ads after Di's Death, Fittipaldi Will Walk Again

12 September 1997

1996 CART champion Jimmy Vasser recorded the fastest speed in testing at the new California Speedway, hitting 232 + mph for one lap on the two mile oval. Parker Johnstone had a 227 mph lap, and Little Al Unser turned in a time of 226 mph.

Mercedes-Benz stopped all advertising in the United Kingdom for the period August 16 (the day Princess Diana died in a MB car crash) and the funeral September 6. The passenger side airbag in the 1994 S280 may have saved the life of the bodyguard Trevor Reese-Jones.

Former world driving champion and Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi underwent back surgery in Miami yesterday to repair spinal fractures that resulted from an ultralight plane crash on his plantation in Brazil. He will have to wear a back brace for about six months but will recover fully.

Mario Andretti's IMAX movie thriller, which puts you in the driver's seat, will come to the Edwards Cineplex theatres in Irvine, CA. Mario may make an appearance to kick it off.

Volvo just got a real nice order, as BostonCoach, an executive sedan service, ordered 6000 GLT and V70 models which will be specially prepared. The Swedish auto maker is launching a new $35 million ad campaign for its all-wheel-drive station wagons in the hope of luring some SUV buyers to the Volvo stores. Actor Donald Sutherland will mouth the words.

Saturn now has 15 retailers in Japan.

While BMW is raising its 1998 prices by 0.7%, Jaguar has announced its stickers will remain the same as 1997 prices.

Kia sales for August, _97 were up 49% over the same period last year.

Qualifying for the Indy 500 next year will be done in two days instead of the traditional four day time period.

The 15th annual Newport Beach, CA Concours D'Elegance takes place Sunday, October 5 at the Pelican Hill golf course in Newport Beach and will feature fat fendered hot rods.

Cadillac is working on a small car to compete with the BMW 3 series and expects to launch it in 2003.

Honda is planning a larger Accord for the future.

Chevrolet is about to announce active handling package for the 1998 Vette and it will apply to the front brakes.

Nissan's new electric is called the Altra EV and it has a range of 120 miles.

The back seat on the 1998 Chrysler Town and Country has seven small hooks to be used to carry plastic grocery bags. Hooray !

The big rhubarb at SCCA, re the way the Trans Am is being run and which made it look like the drivers and teams would boycott the last race of the season at Pikes Peak, has been cleared up. The club replaced Dan Greenwood with Les Richter, a Penske VP, to run the Trans Am program.

BF Goodrich has stepped to the plate and will put $2.2 million in the pony car series.

IRL star Tony Stewart tested at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway last week. During the week the busy Mr. Stewart won two midget races at Beaver Dam, Wis., finished third in a USAC Silver Crown race at DuQuoin, Il, and flew to North Vernon, Ind for a late model stock car race.

The keynote speaker at the big SEMA show--the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association annual and HUGE trade show--in Las Vegas will be Jacques Nasser, President of Ford Automotive Operations.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel