One of the world’s finest race car drivers and designers has died. Dan Gurney drove just about every racer there was from open wheel Grand Prix to stock cars and sports cars.
His family said Gurney died in California of pneumonia at age 86.
Sports Illustrated once called him “America’s best and most influential racing driver.” After all, he was the first to claim victories in Grand Prix competition as well as Indy car, NASCAR and sports cars. Only two others have ever done that to this day.
He was the first to use a full face helmet in Grand Prix racing.
Among his victories, the grueling 24 hours of Le Mans where he teamed with A.J. Foyt who called him “a true legend of our sport.”
And did you know that he was the first to spray champagne in the winner’s circle?
It was a mixed bag when Ford reported on earnings yesterday.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, Ford reported a loss. This time around it moved to the profit side of the ledger due to some one-time adjustments, but earnings per share did not meet Wall Street expectations. The automaker had warned that some figures might be disappointing due to higher material costs and unfavorable currency exchanges.
For all of 2017, earnings per share came in under forecasts, but revenue topped forecasts.
The automaker has vowed to go on a cost cutting campaign and may phase out some slow moving models.
At the same time, it is, like the competition investing in electric cars and autonomous driving technology.
“In 2017, we made tremendous progress in laying the foundation for our strategy – smart vehicles for a smart world,” Chief Executive James Hackett said in a statement. “In 2018, we are intensely focused on improving the operational fitness of our business to deliver strong results while continuing to build toward our vision of the future.”
Most of the 2017 profits came from sales here in North America with a pretax profit of $7.5 billion thanks mainly to its popular F-150 pickup and SUVs. Yet slowing sales here at home, higher material costs and other factors have the company lowering its guidance for this year. Earnings are expected to be flat.
Ford shares moved lower in after-hours trading after release of the report.
Those slowing sales will continue if a new forecast from Edmunds.com holds true. It sees year over year sales dropping 1.7 percent and down 29.8 percent from December of 2017.
“In January, automakers are expected to pull the reins in on the more generous incentive programs that we saw at the end of 2017,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds. “However, it’s typical to see a slowdown at dealerships in January following the high-selling holiday months. This isn’t necessarily a solid indicator of the direction that the year is headed in terms of overall sales.”
Some tough winter weather has also cut into sales.
“The bomb cyclone that tore through the East Coast at the beginning of the month certainly didn’t help an already slower sales month,” said Caldwell.
There are reports that Rolls-Royce will display its upcoming “High-Sided Vehicle” this summer in a series of closed-room events. So now we can add HSV to the SUV nomenclature. Motor Trend said Rolls is hopeful the vehicle will push yearly sales over the 5,000 mark.
A survey just out from AAA concludes drivers may be warming up to the idea of self-driving cars. Sixty-three percent report feeling afraid to ride in one, but that is down from 78 percent in a survey conducted early last year.
“Compared to just a year ago, AAA found that 20 million more U.S. drivers would trust a self-driving vehicle to take them for a ride,” said AAA Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations Director Greg Brannon.
As testing of self-driving technology continues, only 13 percent say they would feel safer sharing the road with a no driver car. A total of 46 percent would feel less safe while 37 percent were indifferent.
Seventy-three percent consider themselves better than average drivers despite the fact that more than 90 percent of crashes are the result of human error.
Voters in nine San Francisco area counties will get to vote on a proposed $4.45 billion package of congestion relief projects. The project would be financed by raising tolls by $2 on seven state owned bridges by January 2025.
One backer of the measure said no one likes higher tolls, but nobody likes traffic jams or crush-loaded train cars either.