2022 in Review: Winners and Losers
Getty Images/Taylor Hill
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They say genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. In the case of Scot Burner’s new Guinness World Record, we’d say it’s 99 percent inspiration. He earned the certificate for fastest mile driven in reverse, averaging 48 mph lapping his C7 Corvette around the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park racetrack in Kentucky. We did something similar in 2011 with rental cars, which got four of our staffers banned from Avis for life. Turns out loss prevention has no sense of humor. If Burner’s feat inspires you to make a run for a record, find a Lincoln Town Car. As our decade-old story can tell you, it’ll do a terrifying 63 mph in reverse, 9 mph faster than the highest speed Burner saw. Hertz may still have a few in service.
Naming its MC20 the Cielo might not seem like much of an L for Maserati on the surface. After all, the roof is removable, and cielo is Italian for sky. But back in 1999, Buick introduced its own Cielo, a really lame concept car based on the Regal sedan. The Goldleaf Chromaflair—a metallic orange—concept lacked a roof and had a look that may have been inspired by a plastic grocery bag. We’ll just lay it out here: This sort of design and thinking led to things like the Pontiac Aztek. Maserati’s Cielo is gorgeous, but when we hear Cielo, all we can see is that Buick.
In a move straight from the minds of preteen gamers, Ross Chastain went full send on the last lap of the 2022 Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway. What is “full send,” you ask? In this case it is a last-ditch effort to secure a place in the Championship 4—NASCAR’s convo-luted playoff event—by pinning the throttle to the floor and the car’s right side to the wall in the final two turns in the race. Chastain made up five places with the move, three more than he needed. We half expected NASCAR to respond with a new rule, a move that would have landed it in the loser category here. But Chastain told the media, “I have no ideas or plans to ever do that again because it was not pleasant.” It sure was cool to watch.
Prospects have dimmed for the EV startup Faraday Future. In February, its chairman stepped down over the company’s potentially misleading investors regarding preorders. Then the Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed members of Faraday management. This was less than a year after Faraday went public through a SPAC (special- purpose acquisition company), which avoids the scrutiny of the IPO process. The stock price was $14.82 the day after Faraday joined the NASDAQ in July 2021 and has since shrunk to less than a buck.
Porsche now offers a roof-top tent for, get this, the 911. Seemingly designed for those who think the highway noise of 305-series Pirellis just isn’t loud enough, the hard-shell tent is available from Porsche dealers. We’re sure plenty of these $7029 pop-tops ($1029 for the tent, $6000 for print-ing “Porsche” on it) will end up on the Safari-style 911 Dakar model that Porsche debuted at the L.A. auto show. The only bummer is Porsche says vehicle speed should be limited to 81 mph with the tent on top. We have never known Porsche not to be serious, so we’d heed that warning.
Did someone say, “EV startups need more bad news”? In October, Trevor Milton, the founder and former CEO of Nikola, was convicted of fraud in federal court (he plans to appeal). Nikola, if you’ll recall, was going to sell an electric pickup called the Badger, but the firm switched gears to focus entirely on electric semi trucks. Despite having to recall them for a minor issue, the company did deliver 93 trucks in 2022.
The cargo ship caught fire and sank in the Atlantic in March. All 22 crew members survived, but 3965 Volkswagen Group vehicles did not, including 85 cars from Lamborghini and 189 from Bentley. Media speculated that an electric-car fire was the ember that did in the Felicity Ace, but we’re here to smother that idea, as the cause is unknown. We may never know for certain what happened because the ship is now nearly two miles (0.5 league) under the sea. There’s an estimated $401 million worth of cars down there, so maybe some rich eccentric will mount a salvage operation. If that happens, be wary of a zero-mile Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae advertised on Autotrader for a song.
In response to the war with Ukraine, Nissan sold its Russian operations to Russia for a buck. That amounts to a $687 million Toto flush for the Japanese company. It’s a big loss but an honorable decision. In April, Nissan has the option to buy back the operation—production in St. Petersburg and business ops in Moscow—but that seems unlikely.
Formula 1, among the most popular sporting series in the world, finally found a significant number of viewers in U.S. households with the help of a soap-opera-like reality show called Drive to Survive on Netflix. We shouldn’t be surprised that a bit of drama was injected into F1, considering a company named Liberty Media acquired the Formula One Group—the firm that man-ages F1—for a cool $8 billion in 2017. Between the success of Ted Lasso and Ryan Reynolds’s purchase of a Welsh football club, expect soccer to be the next sport to surge in the U.S., but probably not.
Yup, you can win and lose in the same year. While F1 won the hearts of U.S. fans, it also lost some integrity. Exhibit A: The 2021 drivers’ championship was decided on the last lap of the last race. Rules were bent so the race wouldn’t end behind a safety car. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen benefited, winning both the race and the championship, with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton feeling like they were the ones who got bent. Fast-forward to October 2022 and exhibit B: The previous year’s budget review determined that Red Bull had spent too much, further chapping Mercedes. Those in the sport are split about the resulting fine and punishment, with Mercedes landing on the side of too lenient. Some would say rules are rules—F1 has 329 pages of them, after all. It’s a whole lot of drama. Remember, a media company owns F1.
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