Mercier-Jones Hovercraft Unveiled at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Survivalist Display at Sept. 19-22 Charlotte AutoFair
For years, the hovercraft has represented the ultimate in all-terrain vehicles, a futuristic mode of transport capable of traveling with ease over almost any type of surface. The prototype for just such a machine was unveiled Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where it will be on display as part of this weekend's Charlotte AutoFair.
Michael Mercier built his first ACV from plans he found in a Boy's Life magazine in ninth grade. He later earned a degree in mechanical engineering with plans to develop his own model. Mercier-Jones (started with cousin Chris Jones), now has a prototype that will "bring you the future of hovercraft design."
The Mercier-Jones design features an open cockpit where a pair of bucket seats is arranged in tandem fashion. At 149 inches bow to stern, the craft is about four inches longer than a Mini Cooper, although it is about 20 inches wider and 14 inches shorter.
Weight is a surprisingly low 800 pounds, about the same as a new Harley-Davidson Road King with full accessories. Construction techniques from automotive, marine, and aerospace industries, and liberal use of carbon fiber and metal alloys, help it step lightly on the scale.
The Mercier-Jones utilizes a patent-pending hybrid propulsion system that is quiet and efficient. It has a 40-horsepower, motorcycle-style, V-twin engine that charges a battery pack, which runs three independent motors spinning one lift fan and two side-mounted directional fans. A 10-gallon fuel tank gives the Mercier-Jones pilot up to five hours or 150 miles of cruising range. Estimated performance figures put the amphibian somewhere between boat and economy car territory - zero-to-50 takes 10 seconds, cruising speed is 35 miles per hour, and it tops out at 80.
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft is expected to sell for around $30,000 when it enters the market.
At this weekend's AutoFair, the Mercier-Jones hovercraft will be on display as part of the apocalypse survival vehicles display, alongside vehicles like the Local Motors Rally Fighter, Can-Am Maverick X rs utility terrain vehicle from Carolina Truggies and Organic Transit ELF solar/pedal-powered bike car. Although there's no such mention in the Mercier-Jones sales materials, the hovercraft would likely be on the short list of those looking to survive the undead in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
The fall AutoFair features more than 50 car club displays and more than 7,000 vendor spaces that offer a vast array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway. In addition, up to 200 cars will be auctioned by Dealer Auctions Inc., and kids can enjoy bounce houses and other games and entertainment in the huge Play Zone.
Hours for the Sept. 19-22 AutoFair are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 per day for adults and children 13 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Fans who buy three tickets get the fourth day free. Parking for the event is $5. For more information on the four-day event, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
To purchase tickets, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267), or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
Keep up with all the latest news from the speedway by liking Charlotte Motor Speedway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.com or following on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cltmotorspdwy.
Hundreds of fans gathered along Bruton Smith Boulevard and at the entrance of Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday to help the legendary facility kick off an action-packed fall season during the 5th annual Parade of Power.
With more than 32,000 horsepower on display and cars representing 16 race events scheduled through the end of the year, fans enjoyed a parade, a question-and-answer session with NASCAR, NHRA and GRC stars, free monster truck rides and more during the free event.
"We've got The Dirt Track cranking up this weekend with the monster trucks and that means it's time to start our fall Season of Speed," Marcus Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager, said. "Most speedways don't have the events in a full year that we have in just this fall season. It's a great opportunity for fans to enjoy all the fun Charlotte Motor Speedway has to offer."
David Ragan, driver of the No. 34 Peanut Patch Ford for Front Row Motorsports, piloted a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car in the parade.
"Charlotte Motor Speedway not only has a lot of tremendous races out here at all the different tracks they have, but they give a lot back to the community," said Ragan. "I try to come out and support them any time I can. I'm a big race fan as well, so the races that I'm not strapped into, we'll definitely be watching. We'll come out to some of The Dirt Track races and if we're off on Sunday, we'll come out to the NHRA races."
Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Cargill Ford for Roush Fenway Racing; NHRA Top Fuel driver Doug Herbert; Scott Speed, GRC driver of the WIX Filters, N.O.-XPLODE Ford for DRR-SH; Global Rallycross driver Steve Arpin; Matt and Angie Smith, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle riders; Wendy Venturini, Fox Sports 1 reporter and Better Half Dash driver; and George Brunnhoelzl, defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion; among others, also drove their racing machines in the parade.
The parade also included a monster truck, a fire truck with Santa representing Speedway Christmas, Corvettes representing the Charlotte AutoFair, a hot rod representing the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals and more.
The complete fall Season of Speed schedule follows (all events take place at the 1.5-mile superspeedway, unless otherwise noted):
Aug. 10 Circle K Back-to-School Monster Truck Bash, The Dirt Track
Sept. 11 Laps for Life Blood Drive
Sept. 13-15 NHRA Carolina Nationals, zMAX Dragway
Sept. 19-22 Charlotte AutoFair
Sept. 22 Global Rallycross, The Dirt Track
Oct. 4-6 Charlotte Super Diesel Show, zMAX Dragway
Oct. 10 Bojangles' Pole Night, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and UNOH Southern Slam 150, NASCAR Whelen Modified Southern Modified Tour
Oct. 11 Dollar General 300, NASCAR Nationwide Series
Oct. 12 Bank of America 500, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Oct. 25-27 Goodguys Southeastern Nationals
Oct. 25-26 XDRL, zMAX Dragway
Nov. 7-9 World Finals, World of Outlaws, The Dirt Track
Nov. 22-Dec. 30 Speedway Christmas
Nov. 29 Souvenir and Race Ticket Blowout
Dec. 7 Speed for Children in Need, benefitting SCC and The Hendrick Marrow Program
For more information on any of the fall Season of Speed events, including ticket pricing, camping availability or other details, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com. For the latest updates, connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CLTMotorSpdwy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.
Chevrolet Performance presents the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour® driven by Continental Tire at zMAX Dragway, Friday, June 7 from noon until 7 p.m. The Power Tour, one of the most famed automotive tours in the world, will spend its final day of its seven-day, seven-city journey in Concord, N.C.
See the pages of Hot Rod Magazine come to life as thousands of performance vehicles from across the globe descend upon Concord for the RK Motors Cruise Night during their annual 1,400-mile tour of America's car-crazy towns. The Power Tour is the signature event of Hot Rod Magazine, featuring more than a half billion dollars worth of chrome and automotive eye candy.
Event organizers will also attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the most cars doing a simultaneous burnout at the conclusion of Friday's activities.
12 p.m.-8 p.m. RK Motors Cruise Night show hours
12 p.m. Registration opens and tour begins to arrive
12 p.m.-7 p.m. Lucas Oil Dyno Challenge open to all registered participants
12 p.m.- 6 p.m. "Miss Hot Rod" and TV host of "Overhaulin'," "PowerBlock" and "Million Dollar Motors," Courtney Hansen, signing autographs at the SEMA display
1 p.m.-7 p.m. Quarter-mile fun runs on the strip - a part of the Mothers Driving Experience
1 p.m.-7 p.m. Game Zone at main stage (spin-to-win; hot rod trivia, etc.)
5 p.m.-7 p.m. Activities, giveaways and sponsor/VIP interviews at main stage
6:30 p.m. RK Motors giveaway at the main stage
6 p.m. Registration closes
7 p.m. World record breaking group burnout on zMAX Dragway
Local hot rodders can join the Tour for the one-day local stop for only $30 on-site or go to www.hotrod.com for more info on how to register your hot rod for the rest of the tour. Spectators are invited to come out and see the cars for free!
Connect with zMAX Dragway and stay up to speed with all the happenings at the Bellagio of drag strips on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zmaxdragway and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/zmaxdragway.
We're coming to Auto Fair this morning! The Ranchero is done and like most projects, the hardest part is looking at the finished car and asking "Do I REALLY want to sell this car???"
No, I really don't. Its a great, rust-free example of a pretty rare car/truck, and they sure aren't making any more like it (except in Australia, and they won't bring those here). If I didn't have a pickup I could maybe make a case for keeping it, but its time to make some room in the garage for a new project. I'm hoping the next owner will get to drive it more than I've had time to.
Like most projects, we ended up doing more than we intended... new bumpers, new tires, some new suspension parts and the repairs I detailed in earlier blogs. But its been a fun project, and its a really cool little car to drive.
There's just one thing missing... somehow, our Ranchero has lost its grille emblem!
Fortunately, one of America's biggest vendors of Ford restoration parts, Dennis Carpenter, has his factory and showroom located just north of the speedway on US29. And even better, they have the best price I could find on a new 1965 grille emblem! So I'll pick one up on the way to the track and install it there.
So come on over to Car Corral spot CC-2129 on the frontstretch of the oval and have a look.
Okay, we're almost ready for our assault on Food Lion Auto Fair tomorrow. Sunscreen, passes, map of the layout, comfortable shoes, shopping list. I need to get some new webbing for my tie-downs, and I'm usually looking for neat old signs and license plates... Auto Fair is always a great place to find used parts and pieces.
Our 1965 Ranchero is just about ready to go, and we now know that it will be in Car Corral space 2129. That's along the frontstretch wall of the superspeedway, between start/finish and turn 4.
When we pulled it out of the garage after a long slumber, it started right up but had a carburetor leak. So we shipped the Autolite 1100 carb to Recarbco in Calif. Noah Burt and company not only rebuild carbs, but every one gets tested on a running engine before they ship it back. It looks and works just like brand new.
Noah said the carb had some debris in it that suggested crap in the gas tank. I know that tank is NLA (no longer available), so I didnt want to mess with it. We hauled the Ranchero to Ken Nicks at Eclectic Rods and Restoration in Jonesville. Ken pulled the tank, acid etched the inside, flushed the lines and changed the filters. The fuel system is all clean and good to go.
While checking the car over, they noted three of the four drum brake adjusters were rusty and frozen. Off they came for refurbishing, and now everything works as it should. You can see Ken is in a hurry to get everything done!
Almost done. Marvin reworked and painted an old scrape behind the driver's door, and painted the spare wheel to match the four wheels on the car. The carpet looked a little shabby, so I called Stock Interiors in Seneca, SC, and they shipped a new molded carpet in just two working days.
There's only one more thing we need... and I can pick it up on the way to the speedway Thursday, I'll tell you about it tomorrow.
I sure hope you are enjoying getting ready for this weekend's Food Lion Auto Fair. We don't use our '65 Falcon Ranchero for hauling parts now that we have a full-size pickup. So as cute as it is and as fun to drive as its always been, we are bringing the Ranchero to the car corral to sell, or may run it over the auction block this weekend at AutoFair.
Ford first made a Ranchero in 1957 by taking a two door station wagon and lopping off most of the roof and adding a pickup bed. They correctly reasoned that many people wanted the utility of a pickup without the ride and handling of a, well... a truck! By 1959, Chevy had joined the game with their ElCamino.
In 1960, Ford debuted the compact Falcon and the Ranchero moved to its lighter, smaller body. The early (1960-63) Falcons look much like a worn bar of soap but folks love them. Tim Suddard, publisher of a great magazine, "Classic Motorsports", recently sold his 1963 V8 Ranchero for over $20,000!
In 1964, Ford squared up the lines of the Falcon and added a "sweep spear" down the side. This style was used for two years, and our car is pretty much the way it rolled off the assembly line in September 1965.
The exterior is medium blue poly and the interior color is called "palamino", which sounds much better than "tan". This was a base model Ranchero, so it has a bench seat, crank windows, and no chrome trim down the side.
It still has its original 200 cubic inch, 120 hp inline 6-cylinder engine. The 3 speed manual transmission has a column shifter, and it drives through a 3.50:1 limited slip rear end. No power steering needed as its quite a light car by today's standards, and it has drum brakes all around and new 13" tires.
Its a great little car, always turns heads and gets a lot of interest from folks who dont remember the Ranchero and think its a one-of-a-kind custom.
Tomorrow I'll detail some of the things we've repaired or replaced as part of the get-ready process. Then look for the Ranchero in the car corral out on the 1.5 mile oval near the start finish line, or in the staging lanes for the auction, and I'll look foward to seeing you this weekend.