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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2016

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INSIDE: !

Chasing a NASCAR dream

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Autonomous parts already here

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When Dylan King arrived in South Carolina in October of last year, he was expecting to get a chance to show off his driving skills and potentially win a spot on the Level 1 Motorsports racing team.

Dylan King (second from right) stands with team members and a test car at Rockingham Motor Speedway. PHOTO SUPPLIED and other features were all the same as cars used in NASCAR. This time, King headed to North Carolina and drove for two 20-minute lap intervals as part of an evaluation. He received notes from the crew chief then hit the track again for 20 more laps. “It was absolutely incredible,” says King of driving the souped-up stock car. He admits the first 20 laps

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But when the driver just before him hit a wall at 120 miles an hour, essentially destroying the test car, King missed his opportunity. After spending just over $1,000 on various fees to get there, the Motorsports team asked if he wanted a refund, but he said no. Although he was heading back to B.C., he knew he would return. In January, King got word that the team had another test car ready to go. It was a NASCAR cup series car that ran at the Daytona 500. The engine was changed to suit a shorter track (it was de-tuned by about 200-300 horsepower), but the suspension, drive train, chassis

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were nerve-wracking because he had never driven a car with that much horsepower and “hitting 14-degree bank walls at 120 miles an hour it was a lot to handle.” After his test, King returned home and waited two long weeks to get the news that he had been signed to the team. “It was extremely exciting and just to know that someone is finally going to give

you a chance to chase that dream,” says King of receiving the news. That dream is to be a NASCAR driver. The American race series is the biggest of its kind in the world, and it’s a long shot for any driver to get to the famous oval, especially so for a 27-year-old who grew up in North Vancouver and now lives in Sechelt. But King now has his foot in the door and it all started with a call-out he spotted on a buy-sell type of website for cars. The ad called for applications to the driver development program for Level 1 Motorsports; the team was looking for new development drivers for their program. King emailed his response but didn’t hear back for four months. When he finally got the call to head to South Carolina for an evaluation, it was the culmination of many years of work. Always a fan of cars and NASCAR in particular, King

See Dream page 36

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Automated features offer safety, convenience BRENDAN MCALEER Contributing writer

There are a lot of questions being asked about the autonomous car these days, though most of them seem to have skewed to the “when?” rather than the “how?”

The fact is, almost all the technology is in existence already, out there in the real world getting results. Autonomous racecars are lapping tracks just as fast as human drivers. Google’s autonomous Lexuses are racking up the miles almost entirely without incident. The self-driving car is almost here. Except that it’s not. Not quite yet anyway. While Google and others seem to be right on the cusp of providing us with a car that does all the driving itself, there’s a considerable legal quagmire to be navigated. It’s not the logistics, it’s the litigation; people love to sue over accidents, and when there’s the deep, deep pockets of a car company in the crosshairs, you can practically see the prosecutors salivating. None of the automakers want to be first to make a misstep, so in the meantime they’re rolling out their technology comprehensively, but cautiously. That strategy means a whole raft of semi-autonomous driving features that are already in showrooms, available right down to entry-level compact cars. Think the only way you can get into a machine that’ll at least help you keep one electronic eye on the road is by shelling out for a heavily optioned Tesla? Guess again, this is the sort of stuff you can get on a Honda. However, that means a whole host of new terms and technologies for customers to familiarize themselves with. It’s not just transmission types and airbag counts anymore, today’s car shopper needs to be up on their semi-autonomous driving features. Here’s a quick guide as to what to look for if you’re in the market. Automatic cruise control One of the earliest semi-autonomous features,

Technology is already in existence that allows for certain autonomous features in cars. PHOTO SUPPLIED speed-matching cruise control grew almost as a byproduct of the auto industry trying to make a car that would stop automatically. The concept is simple: using a forward-looking radar

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or laser to judge distance, automated cruise control adjusts your speed to match the car in front. Usually, the driver sets the desired speed, and the car then slows down when it detects traffic ahead. Once the traffic clears (for instance, a slow-moving vehicle pulling into the slow lane) the car then accelerates until it reaches the driverset speed again. On long road trips, this can be a real boon, keeping you from constantly fiddling with the cruise control. However, not all systems are created equal. Perhaps the best and smoothest in operation is that found in Mercedes equipped with their driver assistance packages. Here, there’s a combination of laser and radar used, and the programming actually looks underneath the car you’re following to see if the car ahead is slowing. This helps the system anticipate traffic flow and takes the jerkiness out of its operation, just the way a good chauffeur would. Automated emergency braking Hyundai showed off their available auto-braking technology with a big budget Super Bowl spot featuring two women driving through a town filled with dopplegangers of Vancouver native Ryan Reynolds. Understandably distracted, the two

See Lane page 37

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possible to break the many barriers to get in to the sport. So when he saw the online ad for development drivers he jumped at the opportunity. The plan now is for King to race for Level 1

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Motorsports in the upcoming May-to-October season of the LMSU (Late Model Stock Car) series. The hard part now is to find sponsors, which he is actively looking for, but if all goes well, King hopes to continue racing in the LMSU series, then advance to the next level (ARCA), then on to NASCAR. There’s a lot that has to go right for him to get there, and a lot that can go wrong, but King is excited to at least be taking the first step. “NASCAR before used to be a dream and now it’s physically within reach. It just all depends on how I do now.”

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seems to have come by his passion naturally. His grandfather was a popular local mechanic who owned a service station in Edgemont Village. Although he died when King was just a kid, he passed on his love of the sport of racing, which King started taking seriously by the time he was 17 and built his own car and started racing at a small track in Sechelt. That led him to Las Vegas where he got a licence for NHRA drag racing. “I did have the intention to go really big with drag racing,” he notes. But eventually the appeal of the long-nose dragsters wore off. The races were too fast. At speeds of about 190 miles per hour, they were over in just seven seconds. King re-evaluated what he wanted out of racing and took another look at stock cars. “I’ve always been a fan of NASCAR since I was a kid,” he says, but didn’t think it was

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2016

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north shore news nsnews.com

es brak

Lane assist keeps drivers on track

From page 35

ladies rubbernecked their way into nearly running over a Reynolds-clone at a crosswalk. Happily, the car was paying attention and slammed on the brakes. If you’re regularly a pedestrian (and all of us have to get out of our cars at some point), this is probably the most important safety development for the car next to the three-point seatbelt. Vehicle-pedestrian collisions are on the rise, perhaps due to both distracted drivers and pedestrians alike, and when the two come together, the results are usually disastrous. However, multiple carmakers now offer a camera or radarbased system that can detect pedestrians ahead and take action when the driver does not. Right now, because of costconscious customers, automatic emergency braking is usually bundled with other technology features, like navigation or a higher-end stereo. But just as the backup camera is becoming a mandated feature, we could see pedestrian detection becoming a standard feature on at least mid-grade models. Lane keeping assist Several manufacturers offer lane-departure warning systems that buzz the seat or beep when you wander over the yellow line. At the very least, these re-direct the driver’s attention back where it should be: on the road. At the worst, they embarrass you in front of your passengers (and rightly so). Lane-keeping assist is a little different. With Honda, for instance, the car will actually detect the lane markings and hold position in between them, navigating through corners at speed. Like most manufacturers, you can only take your hands off the wheel briefly, as the car will demand steering input after just a few seconds. And even with more advanced systems, there can be glitches. If sand or leaves are obscuring a lane marking, the system might not read it. Sometimes paint can get too faded for a camera, where a human driver might pick up on it. However, this technology, combined with the abilities of matching speed to traffic ahead and performing an emergency panic stop if needed show just how close we are to the

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Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and automotive enthusiast. His column appears Fridays in the North Shore News auto section called Today’s Drive. mcaleer.nsnews@gmail.com

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2016

| A39

north shore news nsnews.com

Books look at repairs, logos TERRY PETERS Contributing writer

are all found alongside the interesting history of each of the featured models.

Car Emblems, by Giles Chapman, Chartwell Books, 320 pages, $17 Car manufacturers count on the instant recognition provided by distinctive branding for their vehicles. The blue and white BMW crest speaks to a level of luxury, while the rearing black horse on the yellow background of the Ferrari logo is the symbol for power and performance. These emblems speak volumes about the cars they appear on and all have a unique history. Author Giles Chapman tells the stories behind the adornment of 125 brands in his book Car Emblems. With more than 1,000 illustrations, the various versions are presented along with the marquee models that brought each carmaker to the forefront of the public’s attention. The Viking ship has appeared on Rovers since 1929, while various forms of lions have graced the front of Peugeots going all the way back to 1905. Brand names, animal figures, and logos

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The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repairs, by Dennis W. Parks, Motorbooks, 206 pages, $36 It doesn’t matter whether you are incredibly cautious or have been just plain lucky, sooner or later you are going to have some damage done to your vehicle. If you are willing to put in some time to acquire the skills outlined in this book you will be able to do your own auto body repairs. Taking on a restoration project knowing the correct techniques and using the appropriate tools and materials will be key to the final outcome for the do-it-yourselfer or the car enthusiast. Sharing his many years of

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