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President Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy ideology could be summed up with his well-known phrase, “speak softly and carry a big stick.” That same phrase could be applied to the new 2019 Ram Heavy Duty pickup truck lineup, which I was able to sample last week.

Ram wanted me to drive their new Heavy Duty trucks so badly that they invited me to a media day with a bunch of other DC-area automotive press. They fed us lunch and also let us drive the new Jeep Gladiator, which was neat.

We were presented with three Ram HD trucks to choose from, of varying trim level, cab size, rear wheel count, and engine spec.

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Until very recently, the Comanche was Jeep’s most recent pickup truck – and it ceased production in 1992. With modern half-ton trucks too big for most buyers’ needs, the midsize truck market has taken off, and Jeep wanted a piece of the pie. Their hotly-anticipated entrant is the 2020 Jeep Gladiator.

Jeep wanted me to drive a Gladiator so badly that they invited me and several other members of the Washington, DC press to spend the day driving them. They also fed us lunch and gave away some Jeep swag.

The Comanche was, more or less, an XJ Cherokee hacked apart behind the front doors, with a boxed rear frame and bed stuck where the rest of a normal Cherokee used to be.

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How often have you witnessed a longitudinally mounted Japanese five-cylinder scream to its redline while the fully-independent double-wishbone-suspended chassis carves through hairpins and strikes down apexes?  You haven’t?  I didn’t think so.  You probably aren’t alone save for the handful of Honda engineers who put together and tested such a car in the late 1980s.

To help spread some awareness of Honda’s long-gone, slightly-bizarre late-80s engineering, I decided to bring my 1993 Acura Vigor GS 5-speed to the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research for the “Apexfest 6” High Performance Driver Education day.  Apexfest 6 was only my second time driving in an HPDE event and I was excited to go.  Last year, I attended Apexfest 5 with my 2004 Acura TSX and had an absolute blast, but this year’s event was very different.

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I’ve been dealing with Ford corporate a lot lately. My 2018 F-150, equipped with the revised direct-injection 5.0L Coyote V8, has an incurable rattle coming from the variable camshaft timing solenoids. While Ford keeps switching up their story, my red Lariat has been in and out of the dealership service department. When I was told that it’d have to spend some significant time away from home, I was also promised a loaner truck that would tow my enclosed racecar trailer with no issues.

The racing season is in full swing now, and I spent the entire month of March towing my BMW to various events using this loaner truck.

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Motorsports are a fantastic and exciting way to spend time, have fun, and connect people together. There are so many ways of getting into it and it’s not just limited to cars. Hello everyone, I’m Mercedes! I’m a silly lady with a love for cars, an even bigger passion for motorcycles, and I’m here to hopefully bring content for two-wheel lovers to crave!

A Little – Okay, a lot – About Myself…

I’ve long been a tinkerer throughout my life. If an object interests me, I must take it apart and see how it works. As a child I spent perhaps too much time taking apart electronic toys and rebuilding them.

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Spring time in the North East marks the beginning of motorsport season! And while I’m waiting on my Redshift Motorsport coilovers to be built, I’ve had the chance to do two local autocross events with the 128i in stock trim. The only thing done to the car so far is an upgraded front swaybar and 245 width Bridgestone RE71R tires on all four corners. With 125,000 miles on the clock, my stock shocks are way past their prime. Along with unknown maintenance records concerning the front and rear control arm bushings, we could assume they’ve seen better days as well.

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Rain was coming down in sheets as I left my client site in Bethesda, Maryland. “Oh great, let’s see how dry this weekend is,” I thought as I made my way down the Beltway to the Dulles Toll Road. Mercifully, a brief break in the downpour allowed a fast trailer hookup (in dress clothes), and the rain resumed right as I did, headed west with Summit Point Motorsports Park in my sights.

Summit Point and I have an interesting relationship. The facility houses several circuits that are all very fun to drive. It’s also where I had a fairly nasty crash several years ago, spinning off into the woods at Turn 2 during a Time Trial session.

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Having grown up in the Washington DC area, I’ve also grown up attending the DC Auto Show almost yearly. As a kid, I remember seeing cool cars that made an impact on the industry in various ways – the Plymouth Prowler, first Toyota RAV4, and Hummer H1, for example.

This year’s DC Auto Show did not disappoint. As the automotive landscape generally trends toward more generic crossovers powered by turbocharged, two-liter four-cylinder engines, there were still some gems spread throughout the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The buzzword-that-could-have-turned-drinking-game this year was “mobility.” Every automaker is trying to innovate beyond just “the car” as a concept, and it was interesting to see where they’re all exploring.

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The lead up to most “season opener” race weekends has seen me thrashing to get that one final something done on the M3. This year, however, I just hooked my trailer to my loaner truck (Ford still has mine) and stopped by FlimFlamSpeed in Richmond, VA on my way to VIR. Kevin has had my car all winter, and took care of everything it needed in the off-season. Having that “one stop shop” with such a good track record put my mind at ease.

So, after picking up the car, I pointed my black F-150 EcoBoost toward my own personal Disney World – Virginia International Raceway.

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The paddock at VIRginia International Raceway is large – large enough that many racers bring golf carts or bicycles to get around throughout the weekend. One day, years ago, I found myself sprinting from the false grid to the classroom and realized a few things while doing so. First, get a bike. Second, man I need to work on my fitness.

Since then, I got into running Spartan Races, initially with some fellow racetrack friends and eventually with my dad. From 2013 to 2018, I ran 23 events and earned four of their “Trifecta” badges.

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