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The TACH Report: Earnhardt OK to race, Lexus Announces '98 Prices, IRL Vegas Test Rained Out, Toyota With Peugeot Power

5 September 1997

Been a lot of speculation about Dale Earnhardts health and mental condition of late, but today his Doctors and NASCAR Medics gave him a clean bill, and now he awaits an official racing club OK to race at Richmond, VA this coming weekend.

Lexus division has announced prices for their 1998 luxury car lineup:

LS 400             $52,900
SC 400              52,700
SC 300              40,900
GS 400              44,800
GS 300              36,800
ES 300              30,790
LX 450              48,700
The Indy Racing League was to conduct a test day Wednesday, Sept. 3 at the 1 1/2 mile high speed Las Vegas Motor Speedway track in preparation for their Oct 11 race date, The Las Vegas 500K.

Toyota is buying diesel motors for its European delivered Corollas, from Peugeot. These are 2.0 liter mills.

Buick may be the next major car maker to enter the Sport Utility market and will test the waters...consumer attitudes at the Detroit Auto Show next January. It is still 2-3 years away.

One of the best CART races of the 1997 season is shaping up for this coming weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA. This race proved to be the "hot" one for 1996, as Alex Zanardi got his name of "Zig-Zag" when he passed Bryan Herta in an unbelievable spot in the corkscrew. After the race Herta said, "I've never been passed like one has." Bobby Rahal, senior driver on the circuit has four straight victories at Laguna Seca. Patrick Carpentier still leads the rookie point standings over Dario Franchiti.

Race Facts:
What:   Toyota Grand Prix of Monterey
Where:  Laguna Seca Raceway
When:    Sept 5-7
Defending champ:     Alex Zarnardi
Defending pole sitter:   Zanardi
Track layout:   2.238 mi
Race length;    83 laps      185 miles
Records:  Zanardi    118.475 mph  average   1996
Last year margin of victory:  1.2 secs

The big Winston Cup, NASCAR event this weekend is at the Richmond,Va 1 3/4 mile oval and it is titled...Virginia is for Lovers, 200.

J.D. Power and Associates recently conducted a survey called an APEAL study...Automotive Performance Execution and Layout. It's designed to determine how owners feel about their cars. The BMW 7 series sedan ranked the highest.

Even though he went to the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis last week with grim determination and even made a 314 mph run Kenny Bernstein and his Big Bud Top Fuel dragster bit the duct losing by 27thousandths of a second to Bob VanDergriff in the opening round. Next stop for the NHRA contingent is Maple Grove Raceway, Reading Pa, September 12-14.

The National Kidney Foundation is staging a coast-to-coast convoy of 20 1998 Corvettes for charity. It starts this week in Chicago and ends in Fontana, Ca, Sept. 21.

The Cadillac Catera was supposed to be an entry level Caddy but the people buying the cars are over 65 years of age..

Recent crash tests revealed that the Saturn SL2 held up better than nine other cars in its class requiring an outlay of only $655 to make repairs from the crashes to the front, side and rear. Worst was Hyundai Elantra which had a 3 grand repair bill.

VW, as announced here recently is getting serious about the luxo car market and now announces they will build a 12 cylinder engine for this purpose. It's being tested in an Audi A8.

The Feds have recalled 211 GM electrics, EV1 for brake problems.

The only Eagle model coming out of the Chrysler car factory in 1998 is the Eagle Talon as they are dropping the Vision.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel