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Cars n' Stars: Louden Says Bye-Bye to IRL, MB Posts Record Sales, Some New Models Have What It Takes

7 July 1998

The race crowds for IRL races at the Louden, NH have been going down,
down, down in size . . . 25,000 in 1996, 22,000 in 1997, and last week
only 20,000 paid to see the open wheel racers.  The drivers put on a
fairly decent show, but on the tube it looked like only 10,000 fans
were in the grandstands.  Louden's promoters have said no more IRL at
this track. Can't afford to lose any more money. And yet you can't buy
a ticket to the July 12 or August 30 NASCAR race at Louden. You

Mercedes-Benz is on a sales roll, and has announced a 68% gain in
retail deliveries for the first six-months of 1998.  The volume leader
is the E-class line with 4,186 sales for this period over 3,347 units
for a like period last year. Year-to-date sales are 87,464
vehicles. MB even sold 682 of their $100,00 SL roadsters.

Tony George says he just has got to have the proposed U.S. Grand Prix
race at his Indianapolis racing facility and that he is ready to write
the check.  It could be a big one if the Czar of F-1, Bernie
Ecclestone says so. Like $15 mil.  George would build a 2.3 mile road
course in the infield at Indy.  You have to admit it could be very
interesting, as the fans in the grand stands could see all of the GP
race. The race could take place in the fall of 2000, and then the road
course would not receive any use except for testing as Tony's IRL is
committed to oval racing . . . the "traditional American way."

The Austin Healey Club of Oregon is holding it's big annual confab at
Kah-Nee-Tah Resort in Warm Springs, Ore on July 13-17.  They expect
100 of the British sporty cars in attendance, along with Donald
Healey's son John.

Keep your eye on up-and-coming Kart driver Pat Long from Agoura Hills,
CA, a suburb of L.A.  He's 16 years of age and has earned a spot in the
world Karting championships in Dezanzo,Italy.

Saab is the car to take on a picnic.  The new 9-5 features a
refrigerated glove box to keep your cokes and brew cool.

Isuzu is pinning it's hopes on the all-new Rodeo for 1998.  The SUV
looks great: it is wider, but about the same length as last year, and has
a 3.2 liter V-6 motor with 15 more horsepower than before (190 Vs 205).
The company is thinking about bringing out a short wheelbase version of the
popular Ute. The Rodeo sports a 4-speed automatic transmission W/Od and
shift-on-the-fly. It has audible front brake pads indicators, underbody
skid plates, electric seats and for $700 you can have a moonroof. Base
price is $28,910 and the EPA is 16 city, 20 highway.

We're not sure who buys the Taurus SHO but we do know that whoever
they are, they are discerning; it is one heckuva Q-Ship. It costs a
bunch of money for a Ford Taurus four-door with the only exterior
styling cues that say this thing is different being the saw-tooth
grill, rear deck spoiler and chrome trick wheels. Under the hood
however lies a Camaro challenging 3.4 liter 230 hp V8 motor with 230
foot pounds of torque. It is comfortable and quick, but you gotta
realize that the Taurus (vanilla) base price is $18,450. This hot rod,
when equipped with a couple of doodads, goes over the curb for 30
grand. O to 60 mph is 7.84 secs. It has big disk brakes at all four
corners.  This is a car for the BMW buyer who wants performance and a
bit of room but doesn't want to flaunt lighting the hides until
. . . well, until it's time to light the hides.

Coming up this weekend are land speed racing events at El Mirage Dry
Lakes in the California desert.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel