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New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World

“What if Tesla created another Roadster? How fast would it be?” I’ve asked myself that question before and now I can finally answer it.

Elon Musk has announced a new generation of the Tesla Roadster, one that will be the fastest production car in the entire world. The new Roadster comes with a new design and a power pack that consists of a 200 kWh lithium-ion battery pack capable of 620 miles worth of range. Sure, I could talk about the new style, but it truly speaks for itself. What I will talk about is how mind-numbingly fast the new Roadster is.

New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World

All Tesla Model S for Sale

With two electric motors up front and one in the rear, the Roadster comes with all-wheel drive. The amount of power being provided to all four wheels is where this car becomes absurd: 7,375.6 lb-ft of torque. No, that’s not a typo. Seven thousand three hundred and seventy-five. That is enough power to rocket the small Roadster from 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds. Don’t believe me? Check out the clip below.

Tesla Model X Released: World’s Quickest SUV

That’s not a small remote-controlled car, that’s the new Tesla Roadster showing off that it’s the real deal. Going even further down into the rabbit hole of absurdity, the Roadster is stated to be able to squash the Dodge Demon’s quarter-mile time by running it in 8.8 seconds. “Well, yeah, it’s quick, but it surely can’t have a high top speed.” That’s where you’re wrong, thoughts inside of my brain when I was learning about this car this morning. Tesla is putting the Roadster’s top speed at over 250 mph.

New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World

All of these numbers point to a hypercar worth well over one million dollars, right? Again, Tesla is completely screwing with my brain because you can get all of these performance figures for a base price of $200,000. Want one? You better put down a reservation payment of $50,000. You can also opt for one of the 1,000 the Founders Series models ($250,000), which requires you to pay the full price for its reservation.

New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World New Tesla Roadster: Quickest Car in the World

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Aston Martin Announces Valkyrie AMR Pro Track Car

The Aston Martin Valkyrie is the English automaker’s extraordinarily extreme hypercar that will set a new precedent within the company. Today, Aston Martin has announced a new take on the Valkyrie, one that is more track-focused: the Valkyrie AMR Pro. While the road-going Valkyrie was restrained by the limitations created by making it road-legal, this new AMR Pro breaks free from any limits.

Of the changes, the ones you’ll see right off the bat are found on the exterior. The new appearance of the Valkyrie AMR Pro is created by a suite of new aerodynamic surfaces. Larger front and rear wings dominate the new hypercar’s expression, while more minute modifications can be found across its body.

Powering the car is a naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter Cosworth V12 engine that has more power and torque than the road-going Valkyrie – exact figures have not been released as of yet. However, Aston Martin has stated that the Valkyrie AMR Pro will reach a top speed close to 250 mph.

Coolest Cars in the World

Those who buy the Valkyrie AMR Pro will go through a rigorous development program that’s tailored to their personal abilities. What’s more, facilities used by Aston Martin Red BUll Racing’s F1 drivers will be available to the new owners of the Valkyrie AMR Pro.

Only 25 examples of the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro will be created, but they have all been purchased. Expect deliveries in 2020.


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Teenaged Australian Supercars racer Rullo to test Vauxhall BTCC car

Australian Supercars driver Alex Rullo will test a Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra British Touring Car at Brands Hatch on Tuesday next week.

The 16-year-old took part in the Bathurst 1000 this year alongside Alex Davison in a Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, and the pair finished 15th. Rullo also contested every round of the Supercars series until Pukekohe, where he split with the team after being told he doesn’t have a seat for next year.

Rullo, 17, said: “It’s a long way to travel for one day, so naturally I wanted to test with a developing top team, I have thought long and hard about my options for 2018. 

“The BTCC is an incredible series and could be the way to go for us in 2018, so when we contacted [PMR team principal] Adam Weaver and then he subsequently offered me the opportunity naturally I jumped at it.”

Power Maxed has tested a number of drivers in recent weeks. Senna Proctor, who won the rookie-based Jack Sears Trophy in 2017, and Tom Chilton raced for the outfit this year. Since the final rounds at Brands Hatch in October, Power Maxed has run former series runner-up Sam Tordoff and sportscar racer Martin Plowman in testing sessions.

Martin Broadhurst, team manager for Power Maxed Racing, said: “Any testing days give us further information on the car, and allow us to start thinking about what kind of drivers we might want to bring in and the setup required to help us get pole positions and hopefully therefore more podiums next year.”

Story by Matt James

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Lease your car, not your pet

I believe it’s better to adopt a pet from a shelter instead of buying one from a store, but I realize some prefer the store route.

If you go down that road, here’s some advice: If you finance the purchase, read the fine print on your contract to make sure you’re buying your new buddy and not just leasing.

Yes, you can lease a pet. I was as surprised to learn that as you probably are. Imagine the shock of a pet “owner” finding out the hard way they were feeding, cuddling and caring for what they considered to be a member of their family that legally belonged to someone else.

And the lease terms could bite.

Denver Cashes in by Seizing Cars for Low-Level Crimes, Even Without Convictions

Body camera footageDenver Police body camera footageDenver cab driver Semere Fremichael got caught up in an undercover prostitution sting. He was innocent—he thought she wanted a ride, not sex for pay—and was acquitted by a judge.

His taxi, however, got taken for a rough ride. Denver’s Fox affiliate has an excellent two-part investigation showing how the city attorney’s office is using civil asset forfeiture to cash in by snatching vehicles like Fremichael’s for even low-level crimes, and even when their owners aren’t convicted.

In 2016, Denver made more than $2.4 million, seizing more than 1,800 vehicles enforcing the civil forfeiture component of its public nuisance abatement laws. Civil forfeiture is a controversial procedure that allows cities (and states and the federal government) to seize and keep somebody’s assets and property without actually convicting them of a crime.

Denver put the screws to Fremichael, according to Fox reporter Rob Low, offering him a civil version of a plea deal: He could get the car back in 30 days if he gave them $1,000. Or he could demand a civil hearing. If he lost, it would cost him $6,000 and he could lose the car for a year. He took the deal, and says he probably lost an additional $2,500 because he couldn’t use his cab for a month, even though he committed no crime.

City Attorney Kristin Bronson defends the seizure of these cars on camera, but doesn’t acquit herself well (pun unintended). Bronson insists she isn’t abusing forfeiture because the ordinance has been around for 20 years. Which could mean Denver has been abusing the law for a long time.

She also defended the citizen hearing process, which worked out rather poorly for Fremichael. Much like criminal plea bargains, Fremichael was put in a position to accept a small penalty or risk facing an even worse punishment. The risks are even higher for Fremichael because civil trials and hearings use lower evidence standards. It was easier for Fremichael to lose his car in a civil hearing than for him to be convicted of soliciting prostitution.

Low and his team, having talked to two municipal judges, could find no cases out of the hundreds of seizures every year of citizens requesting a hearing. Bronson argued that this was evidence that the system works and is proof that the city was offering “fair settlements.”

But as a sharp cotntrast to Bronson’s claim, Low also interviewed Greg Rawling, a former city attorney who used to prosecute these public nuisance cases for Denver. Rawling told Fox, on camera, the city seized the cars “because they can” and said they were in it for the money.

Another important contrast: The Denver district attorney’s office generally requires a conviction before seizing and keeping somebody’s vehicle, Fox reported. As a result, their office seized five cars, compared to the city’s 1,821, in 2016.

Colorado earlier this year passed some civil asset forfeiture reforms that increased forfeiture transparency and made it harder for police to participate in the federal asset forfeiture sharing program for low-level cases. But that doesn’t apply here to what Denver is doing. Fox also interviewed a state representative who helped usher in these asset forfeiture law reforms. She’s on a task force to consider additional changes to forfeiture laws, and she makes it clear Denver’s behavior has her very concerned.

Watch both parts of Low’s investigation here. Kudos, by the way, for how Low and Fox news handled this investigation and story. Local news outlets have a reputation for simply swallowing what police and prosecutors say on crime-fighting and asset forfeiture methods and parroting back the official line. This Fox piece does not, and they do an excellent job getting to the heart of the weird and complex operations of asset forfeiture in a way that’s easy for viewers to understand.

These details are very important when we have folks like Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein trying to convince Americans that asset forfeiture is all about fighting the Bernie Madoffs of the world. What happened to Fremichael is the more likely outcome when citizens do not get strong due process protections for their property.

Bonus link: The City of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been similarly aggressive in trying to seize cars and has been sued over it.

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6.3 million Americans are 90 days late on their auto loan payments

Vehicles sit parked in a storage lot at San Bernardino International Airport. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

A rising number of Americans are unable to make the monthly payments on their car or truck loans and are in danger of having their vehicles repossessed, according to data released Tuesday from the New York Federal Reserve.

There are 6.3 million Americans who are 90 days late — or more — on their auto loan payments, an increase of about 400,000 from a year ago. When someone gets so far behind on their payments, they typically end up losing their vehicle.

The delinquency rate on autos has been steadily rising since 2011, a red flag at a time when the unemployment rate has been falling. The unemployment rate is now 4.1 percent, the lowest level since 2000. As more and more Americans get jobs and income, it should be easier for them to pay their bills. But the rise in auto loan delinquencies is a reminder that millions are still struggling to make ends meet.

Many of the people who can’t pay their car loans have bad credit scores of under 620 on an 800-point scale. They don’t have many options to get money to buy a new or used car and often end up getting a subprime auto loan that comes with an interest rate of 15 to 20 percent.

The Fed noticed a big difference between how people who get their auto loan from a bank or credit union vs. those who get a loan from an “auto finance lender,” such as a “Buy Here, Pay Here” firm. Among auto finance companies, 9.7 percent of their subprime loans became late by 90 days or more in the third quarter, not far from the serious delinquency transition rate during the worst days of the Great Recession. In contrast, banks and credit unions had only 4 percent of their subprime loans became seriously delinquent last quarter.

“Delinquency rates among auto finance lenders are considerably higher and rising, especially for subprime borrowers, in part reflecting differences in underwriting standards,” said Wilbert van der Klaauw, senior vice president at the New York Fed.

Some have started to compare what’s happening in the auto loan market to the home mortgage crisis that helped trigger the Great Recession and financial crisis of 2008-2009. Many of the same issues are back: Lenders appear to have lowered their standards to give people car loans who probably should not qualify or should not be getting such a large loan. A man in Alabama was able to use his shotgun to cover most of the down payment.

Stringent regulations put in place after the crisis have made it harder to get a home mortgage, but most of the rules don’t apply to auto finance companies. It’s telling that delinquency rates for home mortgages and credit cards have been steadily falling since 2010, while auto loans and student loan rates have been rising.

The problems with car loans are unlikely to cause another financial crash. The auto loan market is much smaller than the mortgage market. The average car loan is about $30,000, according to credit company Experian, compared with over $220,000 for the average home loan, the National Association of Realtors says. Still, economists and Wall Street bankers have been keeping watch on how many people are having trouble paying their car loans because they believe it’s an early warning sign of economic distress.

“Although the impact on the larger financial sector may be muted, there are over 23 million consumers who hold subprime auto loans. These consumers may find their credit reports further damaged after a default or encounter further financial difficulties after experiencing a car repossession,” the Fed wrote in its blog post Tuesday.

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I Was the Foreman of a Racist St. Louis Jury


St. Louis, late summer 2015. It is early evening. It had been raining. K picks up her friend to go to the gym. They set off south on Sarah Street crossing Lindell. They are in their early twenties, likable and taking care of themselves.

He is young, also in his early twenties, also likable. He is driving away from the KDHX folk school after his banjo lesson, on an unfamiliar route to his sister’s house to pick up his dog. He’s lost. He travels west on Lindell almost to Newstead, decides he’s gone too far, makes a U-turn and heads back east towards the Arch.

“I don’t think he’s going to stop,” K’s passenger said. M hit K’s car squarely in the passenger door. K testified it was only a second before impact that she saw the young man’s car. K and her friend testified that their light was green.

On impact, K’s head hit her passenger’s head, and then, rebounding, hit the driver’s side window. The two women were violently tossed left and right as the car slid sideways and rolled forward to a stop at the curb, still on Sarah, but facing the oncoming traffic. Lindell is wide at Sarah. K crossed the parking lane, then two westbound lanes and then the left turn lane before she was struck in the first eastbound lane.

M thought he had the light. He testified, “I did not think I needed to look out for traffic.” M testified he was trying to read the street signs through the rain-dappled windshield and should have kept lookout. He also said he had but a second to react.

Somebody is not remembering. Nobody was looking out.

Two years later, Sept 6, 2017. Twelve jurors finish their deliberations and file noisily down the metal steps to the courtroom. The bailiff sings out, “All rise for the jury.” I am asked, “Have you reached a verdict?” I respond, “We have.” It feels like my personal point of impact.

The day before I am to render the verdict, about 25 citizens and one very large elephant were escorted to the courtroom of Circuit Court Judge Steven R. Ohmer. I was not keeping good lookout. From the podium, the lawyers asked probing questions to be sure that none of us bring to the table biases that might tip the scales of justice. Have you ever been in an accident? Have you ever worked in the medical field? From the benches the elephant wisecracked, “Are you black? Are you a woman? Do you think that the color of your skin, your gender, your class or your political persuasion will influence the way you decide this case?” The elephant was removed from the courtroom by the bailiff.

When M’s attorney removed four black jurors, he was just playing rough. An attorney cannot remove jurors based on race, but if you don’t get called out on it, then it is all in a day’s dirty work. K’s attorney objected to black jurors being removed for reasons that could have as easily been used to remove some white jurors. I didn’t keep sharp lookout as Judge Ohmer allowed the random assortment of citizens to become a jury of ten whites and two blacks.

Judge Ohmer instructed us jurors that it was up to us to determine who was telling the truth. So here you go, Judge Ohmer, that defense attorney made an illegal block hoping you, the ref, would not blow the whistle. And Judge Ohmer, as I respect your intelligence, then I believe you knew he was feeding you a line. You let a stacked jury selection play on, resulting in injustice and a protected white privilege.

The morning of the verdict, crossing the street with two others, a jackass leans out the window of his pick-up and heckles as he crosses in front of us. Maybe it is not us generally; one of my co-conspiring jaywalkers is black and wields half a seven iron. I hope I have witnessed something rare and hurry to the courthouse.

In the jury room, I am made foreman for the third time in my life. I ask for a quick, anonymous vote to see what everyone is thinking. As I open the folded pieces of paper and see there are nearly nine votes to assess 100 percent of the blame on K, I am in shock. I am embarrassed of my naïveté. I ask for every juror to express his or her opinion. No one ever makes a racist or sexist remark. Everyone is polite. But the bottom line is they do not believe K or her passenger — they say because of discrepancies between their recollections. They think the $25,000 for K’s expenses and trouble is just a money grab.

I point out that M struck K; was there no blame on M? They say that M had the light, but, it’s the word of M against the word of K and her passenger. I point out, if K and her passenger were lying in a scheme to make money, don’t you think they would have made sure all the details of their story matched? Might K ask for more than expenses plus $10,000 from a Mercedes-driving, insured, son of a local entrepreneur?

I suggest bias might be at work. After all, K is black. M is white. Most of us are white. I hear only groans.

So, this is how you can hit a car broadside and be assessed no fault. You just have to be a white male and be able to afford a lawyer willing to play dirty and prey on the bias sleeping in us all.

As a white person waking up to my privilege, I have made the mistake of speaking to my black friends about my unfolding awareness. And after this case, I imagine saying, “You know, Tiffany, racism isn’t just the killings of Michael Brown and Anthony Lamar Smith. Even in a small civil case, a civil lawsuit following a car accident, a person of color cannot get a break.” I do not say that.

For K and her friend, racism and white privilege is not an “unfolding awareness.” Despite familiarity with racism, this verdict was up close and personal. I saw K’s tears and I know she was wounded even if acts of racism were not new to her.

As I leave the court, what looks like 50 officers are subduing a black man who became enraged over a court proceeding involving his brother. Tom Waits comes to mind:

…And the broken umbrellas like
Dead birds and the steam
Comes out of the grill like
The whole goddamned town is ready to blow

I am terribly frustrated that I could not move those jurors one inch. I am not powerless; powerless is different from failing. We are never powerless even when do not succeed, even if we individually are sacrificed.

We can speak out about the injustices and the lying that is tearing at the country. We can bear witness. We can combine our petty powers, in the thousands — to vote out a judge, for starters. None of us are ever powerless; demand justice. You will not be alone.

** Tom Waits, from Rain Dogs, 9th Hennepin.

Robert Schmidt is a St. Louis resident of little color and some means. At work he is at home with database design and business analytics; at home he works on being a good family man and citizen. Find him on Twitter @robertphilipsch.

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Forget a new car, I just bought a new adventure craft!

Chris and Pam LeBlanc christen their new canoe in their backyard Sunday evening.


I took the canoe plunge yesterday.

In the last year, I’ve discovered how much I love paddling. I kayaked the Llano, Colorado, Pedernales and San Marcos rivers, plus Mexican Creek, Lake Travis and Lady Bird Lake. I also canoed for four days on the Devils River.

RELATED: Check out these great places to paddle in Central Texas

I own my own canoes (a hand-me down gift, from some dear friends who moved to Boston.) But I’ve been dreaming about buying a canoe for a year now.

Duane Tegrotenhuis, owner of TG Canoes Kayaks in Martindale, sold me my first canoe, an Alumacraft, this weekend. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

This weekend, I finally did it, and right this very minute, a shiny Alumacraft Voyageur canoe, with a stripe of red and black trim along the top, is perched on a pair of saw horses in my backyard. My husband Chris is building a rack to hold it, and next week the boat will make its maiden voyage.

RELATED: Paddle the Llano River for fun – and smoked chicken 

Pam and Chris LeBlanc bought an Alumacraft Voyager. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman


I plan to use it mainly for canoe camping. Already, a trip down the Pecos River is in the planning stages for next spring. I can’t wait to get back to the Devils, too. I’m even contemplating a few short paddling races (no, not the mother of them all, the grueling Texas Water Safari.)

Stayed tuned for upcoming adventures …

RELATED: Port O’Connor trail guides kayakers through coastal wetlands



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