McLaren’s MP4-X

The trajectory of sports is defined by a battle between traditionalists and futurists. There’s those who remember the sport from their halcyon days of earlier fandom, and those who acknowledge that because society is constantly advancing, our new technologies should apply to even our athletic pastimes.

futuristic racing car

The MP4-X in all its majesty.

We’ve seen it with football and concussions, for example. But the gridiron isn’t the only place where this question is being asked— it’s made it’s way to auto-racing, too.

Now, I don’t know all the answers, but McLaren is positioning itself at the vanguard of racing development for the next generation. A lot of times, when we think fuel efficiency or safety, we think of cars that aren’t sleek or fun or even fast. But the British auto manufacturer is looking to change that with its newest concept car, the MP4-X.

It was recently profiled in Maxim, which notes that it looks like “a fighter jet with wheels”. The new vehicle is not only engineered to contend, but to be safe as well.

All while incorporating cutting edge developments in automotive technology.

Take, for instance, the battery. It’s pretty heavy, and weighs down the car. By its nature, it is antithetical to the sleek and nimble associations with F1. McLaren is currently working to change this by outfitting their car with the ability to be wirelessly charged as it zips around the track. And as if that weren’t enough, McLaren is proposing to add solar power cells onto the hood for an added boost.

On the safety front, they’ve made the decision to do away with the traditional open cockpit. While this is sacrilege to many F1 enthusiasts, they argue that today we know better, and shouldn’t resist an advancement in safety. This hits home for some, considering that the Indycar and F1 worlds were rocked by two deaths just this year.

It’s still a concept, true. But if this is just one part of the future of racing, I can be alone in wanting to see the rest.


Over at Petrolicious I bumped into a post that took a look at one of the more fascinating styles of racing automobiles: engine passengers. Obviously, we’re not talking about engine riding shotgun, and the reality is that it can be a bit hard to imagine for those who do have not seen one. So let’s take a look at some of the cars they’ve shared with the readers.

italian dalmonar car turning the corner

That’s the Nardi Bisiluro Damolnar. As you can see, the engine is fitted not under the hood, but in a section of the body that runs parallel to the driver’s side. Debuting in 1955, this particular vehicle was built with one thing in mind: endurance. Enrico Nardi wanted his car to compete with the best at the legendary Le Mans endurance race. One of the most important aspects of the dream vehicle was the emphasis on aerodynamics. This compact speedster actually required the driver to put their legs through the steering wheel, and the brake system was a work of genius in its own right. But while hopes were high, it ultimately did not finish due to suspension and weight problems— it met its end when it was blown off the track while being lapped. However, you’ve got to respect the ingenuity in the design.

While the Damolnar turned heads in its day, it certainly wasn’t the first vehicle to have that unique body design. That credit goes to 1951’s TARF II. The car was nicknamed “the twin torpedo”, and primarily competed in low-drag speed races. And speedy it was! It won a competition with an officially recorded rate of 185 mph, although it’s maximum speed was almost 200mph! Lucky for us, there has been video of this bad boy in action.

These cars aren’t only relics of the past. Honda is actually tinkering with a similar concept with their two cars aptly named Project 2 and Project 4. It’s pushing around 215 horsepower and weighs under 900 pounds. Again, this thing is a concept, so don’t expect to see it on the track anytime soon. But at least we know it’s out there.