IndyCar technology under a hood near you: CNET On Cars Episode 2

Hit the track with Cooley to see -- and hear -- IndyCar tech, learn why turbos are like a magic trick and get the list of Top 5 car technologies you can blow off.

This episode took us to the tortuous Sonoma Raceway for a sphincter-tightening run in the new IndyCar formula. The demo cars seat you tandem behind the driver in a sort of sadistic arrangement that has all the dynamics of full-bore racing without the visual cues that let you know if you're still right side up. Breathtaking.

We shot much of this episode at Canepa, a real gem of a place about 20 minutes up in the mountains from the heart of Silicon Valley. Bruce Canepa races vintages cars and restores everything interesting, both for himself and a long list of Pebble Beach show denizens. He spills it all out on two floors of the museum and opens the doors without an admission fee or single velvet rope between you and the cars. It's one of the most engaging car culture experiences you can have and if you bump into their marketing guy, John Ficarra, try to stump him with a car question. You won't. I didn't.

As we worked on the Smarter Driver episode about deer collisions, the State Farm team reminded me that moose and elk are a huge part of the problem. I yield to their experience and believe that the entire range of cervidae are the best reason for car night vision tech, which I otherwise find distracting. With deer avoidance, it finds its mandate to be and to evolve.

Top 5 this week is something of a controversial one. I take to task a number of the technologies I share with you in our Car Tech videos. After cataloging them for the last seven years or so, I think I know which ones are a rat hole for your dollars and attention. I almost put Bluetooth handsf-ree on the list. Seriously. Not because it doesn't work but because it doesn't help. We are rapidly coming to the awareness than distraction in cars comes from "inattention blindness," regardless of what your hands are doing. More on that in a future episode.

Our next episode will have an extensive look at the Tesla Model S, which I thoroughly enjoyed recently. I came away with questions about their capability to change driving expectations fast enough, and whether a 17-inch touch screen is more or less work! More on September 28.

Remember to leave me your feedback on the show. This is the time when we are soaking up feedback like sponges; a year from now I'll be ignoring your screeds ;)

About the author

Brian Cooley joined CNET in 1995 and always comes at technology from the real consumer's point of view. He brings his high energy, often skeptical style to all avenues of CNET coverage, with an emphasis on car tech. You'll also find him frequently on television, radio and the TV screens at Costco!

 

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