Plus: Car makers go all-out in Super Bowl ads; Ford teams up with partners for health drive; car brands becoming more alike, consumers say; and what Barack Obama and David Beckham have in common.
This week in Motoring: Drag racing series returns to Yas Marina Circuit
After a successful first year, Yas Pro Drag Racing Series is returning to Yas Marina Circuit for a second season with a potential prize pool of more than Dh920,000.
The series will begin in March and will run until May and drag racers will compete over a 400m distance. It will consist of six entry categories: Pro Modified, Super Pro 7.5 Index, Pro Bike, Super Street Bike, PRO 6 and Super Street.
"We are very excited to launch the second season of the Yas Pro Drag Racing Series. It is one of the most prominent drag-racing events in the Middle East," says Rashed Al Qubaisi, head of the Yas Drag Racing Centre.
In the Pro Modified category, organisers have amended the rules to allow cars to utilise automatic transmission and reduce weight by 18kg.
In addition to the competitions, fans can ride in the world's fastest three-seat Super Comp dragster.
"The series is expanding every year in terms of local and regional participation, and I encourage drag-racing fans to come down," adds Al Qubaisi.
Round one is on March 15 and 16 at the Yas Drag Strip. To enter or buy tickets visit www.yasmarinacircuit.ae.
Car makers trot out the stars and special effects for Super Bowl ads
Monday morning UAE time, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots will kick off one of the biggest annual sporting spectacles: The Super Bowl. And a big part of the attraction will happen between snaps of the ball.
With television commericals during the NFL championship game costing more than US$3 million (Dh11m) for a 30-second spot, companies who advertise try to get the most bang for their money with big-name stars and special effects.
This year, car makers that will be shilling their wares include Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus, Volkswagen, Chrysler, Audi, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Hyundai, Kia and Suzuki.
Already, you can watch many of them on the internet; Honda has Matthew Broderick reprising his Ferris Bueller role (sort of) for the CR-V, and both Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld rival to see who will buy the first Acura NSX. Most of these ads are guaranteed to go viral over the web after the broadcast.
Unfortunately, that's where UAE viewers of the game, which will air on Fox Sports from 3am on Monday, will have to stay to watch the spots; our broadcast won't carry the US advertisements.
Ford teams up for health drive
Ford has joined forces with Microsoft, Healthrageous and BlueMetal Architects in a bid to develop in-car health research.
Studies show that people are spending more time in their cars so this alliance, which was revealed at a summit in Dubai last week, aims to find out how to extend health management into a person's car without being too intrusive. The prototype system was designed by BlueMetal Architects.
Using information collected from blood pressure monitors, activity monitors and glucose meters, along with behavioural data shared by the user, Healthrageous is able to help people lead healthier lifestyles by shedding unhealthy habits.
Microsoft's contribution is to translate robotic sensory information from the vehicle into an application that also provides a voice and touch-screen interface, while Ford's infotainment system, SYNC, allows this all to be done hands-free.
"Ford SYNC provides easy, voice-controlled access to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and therefore it makes sense to research areas that are important to our customers," says Gary Strumolo, of Ford.
The aim, he adds, is to create "the car that cares".
Car brands are becoming more alike, US consumer report says
Motorists believe there are fewer differences between car brands than ever before, a new US survey of consumer perceptions has found.
Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet, which have been leading the annual brand perception study for years, have seen their points gap decrease while most top brands saw double-digit drops in their total scores.
The Consumer Reports National Research Center scores are based on seven categories: safety, quality, value, performance, environmentally friendly/green, design/style and technology/innovation.
Toyota continues to dominate in brand perception, although it slipped 17 points compared with last year. Ford was second, followed by Honda, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, Lexus and Tesla, which made its debut in the top 10.
The bottom 10 brands were: Saab, Fiat, Mini, Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Mercury, Suzuki, Jeep, Infiniti and Mazda.
Obama's old saloon car on eBay for $1m as Beckham sells Rolls-Royce
A car that once belonged to Barack Obama, the US president, has been put up for auction on eBay with a reserve price of US$1 million, despite it being more than seven years old.
The Chrysler 300C was used by the then senator for Illinois between 2004 and 2007, when he traded it in for a hybrid. The advert says that Obama drove the car for 19,000 miles (30,000km).
A new Chrysler 300C would cost around Dh100,000, while a model like this one would usually resell for about Dh53,000. "How do you put a price on something like that?" Lisa Czibor, who is managing the auction for the owner, told ABCNews.com.
Bidding was to close on Wednesday night, and there were no bids as Motoring went to press.
Meanwhile, football star David Beckham is parting with his black Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé on the auction website. Beckham bought the car for £350,000 (Dh2.02 million) in 2008 but is now selling it for £250,000.