Adrian Grenier discusses green living at 2012 Go Further with Ford event

Most Bullz-Eye readers will recognize Adrian Grenier as Vincent Chase from HBO’s “Entourage.” But there’s much more to him than that. Grenier has always been passionate about the environment and living a sustainable lifestyle, and eventually that passion led him to co-found a company dedicated to this purpose.

I recently attended Ford’s 2012 Go Further event will several hundred other bloggers, and Grenier was featured on a panel with his SHFT.com co-founder Peter Glatzer to discuss green lifestyle issues along with other experts and activists. Frankly I came away very impressed. So many activists in this area can become very preachy about the subject, and that’s particularly true with celebrities. But Grenier is much more interested in inspiring people to make their lives more sustainable, and that’s the mission of SHFT.com according to their website:

SHFT is a multi-media platform founded by film producer Peter Glatzer and actor-filmmaker Adrian Grenier. Our mission is to convey a more sustainable approach to the way we live through video, design, art and culture.

The website covers a wide variety of topics, including architecture, art, business, conservation, design, energy, fashion, food and home & garden. They’re aiming for an audience looking for innovative ways to change the way they live their lives in order to better take care of our planet.

One effort is called “The Big SHFT” which involves a partnership with Ford Motor Company.

The night before, we heard from Bill Ford who recounted his own commitment to these issues and he candidly discussed how the powers that be at Ford looked at him like he was an alien when he brought up these issues years ago. But he wouldn’t give up, and now Ford has become a leader in this area.

Among the presentations at the Go Further event involved some of the innovations coming out of Ford’s research labs that are changing the materials that go into their cars. One example is Ford’s use of soybean-based foam in seat cushions, backs and head restraints that saves about 5 million pounds of petroleum annually. The next step according to the researchers is making these foams biodegradable.

Ford is also focusing on recycled materials like plastic bottles, denim and old tires. They also working on other initiatives, like retired US currency of all things. With its strong, tensile characteristics, they are looking into shredding these old greenbacks for use in the manufacture of plastic parts like trays and bins. Currently retired currency is simply burned.

The possibilities are endless, as long as we put our minds to it. Ford is one of the many companies pushing for these solutions, and SHFT.com wants to inspire more companies and individuals to look for more innovations. You don’t have to be a multi-national corporation to make a difference.

Check out the SHFT.com website for more cool content in this area. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. For some the green issue has become very political and polarizing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. All of us can learn more about simple changes we can make for a more sustainable lifestyle, and this bottom-up approach can have a huge impact.

  

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Driving the 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302

There are few things quite as exhilarating as driving a muscular sports car on a track. Driving on the open road or through winding mountain roads can be great, but pushing a beast like the Mustang Boss 302 around the tight turns of a racetrack and then flooring it on the straightaway will give you a thrill you’ll never forget.

We naturally jumped at the chance to participate when Ford invited us to its first “Mustang Masterclass – Something Every Man Should Know” event for the opportunity to drive the 2013 Mustang Boss 302 at Miller Motorsports Park. The idea was to teach us how to drive this incredible muscle car on a track regardless of our skill level. I was pretty comfortable driving a stick but was anxious to learn more from some of the best driving instructors in the country, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Mustang is one of the most iconic American nameplates, and the Boss 302 is a special version of the Mustang that was born on the track. The first generation Mustang Boss 302 was made from 1969-1970 specifically for buyers who wanted to race their Mustangs, and it was revived in 2012 for the same purpose.

Most importantly, the new Boss features a beast of an engine that yields 444 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. The Boss mandate is to provide the best-handling Mustang ever, so the already strong Mustang GT suspension system has been further refined. The Boss 302 also features unique, lightweight 19-inch black alloy racing wheels in staggered widths: 9 inches in front, 9.5 inches in the rear. The result is an incredible machine with a growl that will turn heads and bring a smile to your face.

Miller Motorsports Park was about 30 minutes away from our hotel, so we loaded up on some coffee and were greeted by a fleet of colorful 2013 Mustang Boss 302s that we would be driving to the track. From a design point of view, one minor change stands out this year involving the side stripes. The 2012 version featured a reflective “c-stripe” on the side of the vehicle inspired by the 1969 model, and the 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 builds on the heritage of the 1970 Boss 302 with new, reflective “hockey stick” graphics package. The LED lights in the front and back also stand out. We hopped in and revved up the engines and were off. This gave us a preview of what we were in for at the track as we cruised through the Utah countryside. The Boss 302 may be built for the track, but you’ll have plenty of fun driving this beautiful vehicle in any setting.

When we arrived at the track we settled in for some serious classroom work. The goal here was to teach us how to drive on a race track, and the instructors were extremely knowledgeable and safety was always the number one goal. A lot of time was spent on the proper line to take going in and out of turns, focusing on the apex and the entry and exit points. It was fascinating stuff and it also turned out to be extremely helpful.

We got suited up in our racing suits and helmets, and then we headed out to the garage to find our cars. The good folks at Miller had each of our names put on the windshield of our car and it was quite a thrill to climb into a personalized Boss 302 racecar. Mine was orange, though later in the day they switched me into the #57 black car. The track cars had thick safety bars in the interior like you’d find in all race cars. We went through some test laps and then we had some specific lessons on braking and downshifting, and then we were ready for some high-speed laps.

When we got back on the track, the instructor always set the pace in the lead white car with blue stripes with three of us following in our 302s, and following the instructor’s line on the track was a huge help. I was lucky to be in the fastest group, and our instructor really challenged us to keep up. The car was a pure joy to drive and it handled beautifully, and the power on the straightaways and coming out of turns was amazing. I could have spent the whole day in that car.

The entire experience was amazing. We enjoyed many more activities that day at Miller in between our track times, including go-cart racing and zip lining. I’ll follow up with a separate article on all the activities available at Miller Motorsports, but the highlight was the Mustang Boss 302 and taking it out on the track. People from all over the world come to Miller to work with the instructors to improve their driving skills over several days, and we got a very good taste of that experience.

As I was driving back to the hotel, I was stuck behind a truck on a two-lane road so I floored my Mustang Boss 302 and easily blew by it. It was a nice reminder that I didn’t need to be on a track to enjoy this car, but I still can’t wait to do it again.

  

Drink of the Week: The Campari Cocktail

The Campari CocktailSo, you’re starting a new job requiring a long enough commute from your home that it will ultimately require a costly move. Then, the second day of your aforementioned lengthy commute, your car starts hesitating in stop-and-start cross county traffic. Next thing you know, you’re staring down the barrel of a big, big transmission repair bill while suddenly finding yourself with a rented Ford Focus in your driveway instead of your charmingly banged-up Buick.

When that happens, you don’t want a drink that requires a lot of fuss. It’s better if it trying it out helps finish up some nearly empty bottles, lightening your liquor load on your impending cross-megalopolis move.

So, I’ll spare you the usual classic cocktail history lesson as well as the tortured connection to current events or this weekend’s holiday. (Could any cocktail possibly be appropriate for Memorial Day, anyway?) This is clearly a time when you — by which I obviously mean “I” — want my evening cocktail to be simple, stimulating for the taste buds, and strong — which is why I’ve gone and doubled the amounts for my version of today’s DOTW. Feel free to halve it if you’re situation is different or if you’ll be driving anytime soon.

The Campari Cocktail

2 ounces Campari
1 1/2 ounces vodka (preferably 100 proof)
2 dashes aromatic bitters
Lemon or orange twist (fairly optional garnish)

Combine Campari, vodka, and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Shake as vigorously as you can manage and strain into — what else? — a chilled cocktail glass. If you like, throw in a lemon or orange twist — it can’t hurt and it might help. Sip and, if you you’re not likely to give a significant amount of your personal worth to a mechanic, thank your freaking lucky stars.

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I’ve praised the oh-so-sweet and then oh-so-bitter one-two punch of Campari before while discussing the hugely underappreciated Negroni as well as the oh-so-refreshing Americano. As the name implies, here’s a drink where the Campari flavor is really and truly front and center, perhaps too much for some folks. Certainly, replacing the gin in the Negroni with vodka (and actually using less of it), doesn’t do anything to complicate the drink or stand in the way of the Campari flavors, even if they could use a bit of leavening. That’s why I think I found adding in the stronger flavor of 100 proof Smirnoff resulted in a more satisfying taste experience as well as a more effective attitude adjuster.

Vodka-disliking cocktail snobs won’t be surprised that, while I’ve tried this drink with a number of brands, the results with the 80 proof vodkas, however, didn’t vary by much. Indeed, the very cheap Seagram’s and the much more high-endish Kettle One I used to make it didn’t really change the experience by that much. Still, since I like Campari, I’m declaring that a reason to like this drink. In fact, next week’s drink will also feature it, but it’ll be just a mite more complex…unless something else happens to my car.

  

New things from Ford

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2011 Forward with Ford
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Dearborn Mi, During the F-150 drag stripe challenge 2011 Forward with Ford participants raced to the finish line. (06/23/2011)

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We joined Ford this past weekend in Dearborn with bloggers from all over the country to see what Ford has in store for the future. How does a car company deal with changing times and new trends? All companies have to react to the changing world around them and marketplace developments, but spotting trends early can be a big advantage if a company is nimble enough to capitalize on these trends.

Some of the subjects addressed included Living Green, Aging Population and Youth Influence and Global Convergence of Design. Malcolm Gladwell kicked off the event with a keynote speech that addressed the issues of change. Gladwell is always entertaining, but I learned much more when we got to see up-close some of the real trends Ford is addressing and how they are directly impacting products.

Other companies may have been first with green initiatives like electric cars and plug-in hybrids, but Ford is pushing very hard in these areas and we’ll see new vehicles in 2012. Ford has teamed up with well-known conservation and green advocate Ed Begley Jr. who gave us a compelling presentation on what was coming from Ford in this area. Some of the changes are not obvious. One interesting innovation involves soy-based foam which is being used in the seats of cars. This foam is biodegradable and offers a great alternative to petroleum-based foam products.

We got to spend time with J Mays in the Ford Design Center and I was blown away by what they can do now in the design process. Everything is digital, and now they can see and test everything on a massive digital high def screen that covered the entire wall in a large room in the design center. Digital version of the car concepts can be places in all sorts of digital settings so the designers can see what the car can really look like in real life, all the way down to how different types of light would reflect off of different paint jobs, Even the promo “photographs” are now digitally created which saves on time and money.

On the last day we had the opportunity to drive a bunch of Ford vehicles in different settings on the test track in order to learn about various Ford vehicles and initiatives. The events were fun and I learned quite a bit. I started with the F-150 drag races and managed to win my heat. I definitely enjoyed the feeling of flooring the truck from a dead stop on a straightaway!

The most revealing exhibit involved the all-new Ford Explorer. Ford had a series of dirt hills and other obstacles built so we could put the new Explorer to the test in off-road setting. They were showing off the vehicle’s Terrain Management System and I came away very impressed. The system takes the guesswork out of 4WD capabilities. Drivers can pick from four settings – Normal, Mud, Sand and Snow. It was a breeze going up and down steep dirt hills.

It was definitely an eye-opening weekend, so we’re expecting some big things from Ford over the next couple of years.

  

Sights at the New York Auto Show

We just returned from the New York Auto Show where we had the opportunity to tour the new cars with Wes Raynal from AutoWeek and one of their readers. It was very entertaining and enlightening as Wes was very knowledgeable and shared his insights on the new vehicles and trends in the industry.

Along with the new cars, we also discovered some beautiful eye candy along with way as well. We didn’t get as many photos as we got at the LA Auto Show, but we think you’ll like the slideshow we put together.

As usual, the gang from Chrysler led the way with beautiful models helping out with all the brands. The first model above was very tall and had an exotic look while sporting a very short skirt. The gang at Jeep took a very different approach as the model featuring the Call of Duty Wrangler sported camo pants to go with the outdoor theme. Ford didn’t want to be left out so you’ll see the beautiful blonde in the sexy boots above, and Fiat always finds tall, elegant models to highlight their stylish brand.

The show didn’t make a ton of news, though we liked the new Beetle and were mostly impressed with the lineups from automakers. It’s particularly nice to see the American car companies have their act together after years of struggles. Stay tuned for some video from AutoWeek to be released soon covering our tour of the show.

  

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