A Second Trip to Heaven (Barrett-Jackson), But With More Pictures and Video

I tried on the Focus ST. It seemed a good fit.

I tried on the Focus ST. It seemed a good fit.

I went to Barrett-Jackson again today, but this time with my dad and sister. Fortunately for us we found a whole wing of cars my brother and I didn’t see when we were there last week. That whole section was dedicated to automakers displaying current products, and was dominated by the Big Three. It was glorious. The pictures will speak for themselves, but I will say that Best In Show is a straight up tie between the 2015 Corvette Z06 and the 2016 (that’s right) Cadillac CTS-V. The CTS-V was auctioned and sold for $170,000. I assume it is one of the first models to be sold and the proceeds went to charity. Or some old men were really excited about this car and kept bidding. A lot.

Edit: I later saw via Car and Driver that the CTS-V was auctioned off for the College of Creative Studies in Detroit.

I’d also like to apologize for taking primarily detail shots. With so many people swarming around it was sometimes hard to get shots of the whole car.

Check out the video from the track that I finally got to cooperate via YouTube at the bottom of the page. It’s short, but cool. Also check out this video of me riding along in a Corvette. It was a super short ride, but it was freaking awesome.

I won’t say more except that it was a delightful day, and I could have taken thousands of photos. Luckily I only took hundreds.

Hard to decide, but this was one of my favorites all day. I absolutely need one.

Hard to decide, but this was one of my favorites all day. I absolutely need one.

Cadillac CTS-V

Cadillac CTS-V

Cadillac CTS-V

Cadillac CTS-V

I could feel my arteries clogging, and I loved every last bite.

I could feel my arteries clogging, and I loved every last bite.

Getting in touch with my inner fattie, which is to say my general outward appearance.

Getting in touch with my inner fattie, which is to say my general outward appearance.

Dodge Viper

The Viper kind of scares me. But in a good way.

The Viper kind of scares me. But in a good way.

I think the whole Barrett-Jackson atmosphere is the adult form of Disneyland, and the track is the equivalent of the rides.

I think the whole Barrett-Jackson atmosphere is the adult form of Disneyland, and the track is the equivalent of the rides.

The Dodge Charger Hellcat kind of looks like a guppy, but a really ferocious one that will eat you whole.

The Dodge Charger Hellcat kind of looks like a guppy, but a really ferocious one that will eat you whole.

Way up front there is a car being auctioned. I already knew I was poor, and Barrett-Jackson only solidified that understanding for me.

Way up front there is a car being auctioned. I already knew I was poor, and Barrett-Jackson only solidified that understanding for me.

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Millennial Motors: 2014 Mazda3 Touring

The Mazda3 burst onto the scene a few years ago to critical acclaim. The following generation was popular and praised also. The third iteration arrived last year with less fanfare than most new cars, but probably deserves more attention than it has been getting.

Mazda3

The new 3 has not strayed from its fundamental principles of spirited driving and value. Many people might wonder if small cars have to be boring or flimsy, and Mazda has clearly found the answer: Never.

Mazda3This iteration of the 3 comes in sedan and hatchback body styles and both come in three trim levels identical to the CX-5: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. I drove a Touring sedan that rang in at a hefty $25,695, but with a $1,000 dealer discount written in fluorescent orange on the windshield, bringing the car just within the $25,000 price cap.

Standard equipment at this price includes keyless entry and push-button start, 18 inch alloy wheels, heated “leatherette” seats, an “active driving display” (more on that later), and navigation among many others. Lesser models will come with smaller, less dynamic wheels, no navigation, cloth seats, etc. This model seemed loaded, but there is still a Grand Touring trim above this one that includes additional equipment. The little 3 I drove seemed to have everything most young people would be interested in regarding technology.

Mazda3

 

On the outside, the 3 has a sporty look, but with sufficient refinement to not feel too immature. The hatchback is arguably more handsome in profile, but the sedan is hardly an eyesore. The large alloy wheels and gray paint of my sedan tester worked really well, and would definitely set this car apart in a sea of other compacts.

Mazda3The refined look and feel of the exterior translated to the interior, where all controls felt high quality and logical. The knob and control buttons on the center console, which control the navigation and stereo, were especially nice to feel and use, and operating the functions on the center screen was reasonably intuitive. As an added convenience, you can also touch the screen to control the systems if the knob seems cumbersome (but it won’t—it’s a nice setup).

Driving the 3 was easy and fun. The 184 horsepower four-cylinder engine is peppy and smooth, and the transmission’s manual mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters make the drive more engaging if anyone feels inclined to liven things up. Sight lines are clear, and the steering is direct and easy to anticipate. The new 3 will not break land speed records, but this car clearly provides the “zoom zoom” of the compact segment.

The “active driving display” offered on the Touring model is a small piece of glass that raises up and rests just above the instrument cluster at startup. The car’s current speed or navigation directions are projected onto the glass so that drivers never have to direct their eyes too far off the road to access essential information. It isn’t a selling feature that will steal away stalwart fans of Corollas and Civics, but it adds to the impressive list of features the 3 has that enhance driving. A blind spot warning system also adds to the safe operation of the 3 that other cars in this price range might not have.

Mazda3

It’s at the top end of the budget, but the 3 is clearly a noteworthy competitor in the packed area of vehicles around this price. If money is the holdup, the salesman also mentioned an additional $500 discount for college grads through a Mazda sponsored program, which could make that MSRP a little easier to swallow and make all the difference. The high end features and nice design (especially the interior, which echoes elements of current Audi cockpits) make for a compelling choice amid seas of more bland options.

Also available in hatchback form.Mazda3

Makeup Assignment: Community College Assists Refugees

Pima Community College offers free English classes at varying levels to help the immigrant and refugee population of Tucson. These classes, as described by Dean of Adult Education Regina Suitt, help these foreign friends have the skills necessary to succeed in the US.

Even though 6,000 people take these classes annually, Suitt says there is a waiting list to get in, and that more can be done to help these people.

Final Project: English Language Acquisition in Tucson

According to 2010 US Census data, 12.9 percent of people living in the US were born as non-US citizens in other countries. The top 10 nations that contribute these immigrants to our nation’s population are all non-English speaking countries. Imagine being dropped into a country that speaks a language entirely different than yours — it would be stressful and difficult, wouldn’t it? That’s what happens to many of these refugees and immigrants that come here.

Tucson has resources to help these people to learn English, and many of them are free. Literacy Connects is a program dedicated entirely to helping people learn English, and there are other organizations that offer many different kinds of support like the Tucson International Alliance of Refugee Communities. Representatives from two community programs and one immigrant all told me that learning English is essential to living well here in the US, and that these programs are critical to the success of those that are new to this country and don’t speak the language.

And while it seems that there is a lot available to help these people, some wonder if there isn’t more that can be done to help. Julio Pájaro, an immigrant from Mexico, said that he would have invested more time in learning English when he arrived if he had known more about what was offered him. Whether it was for lack of publicity of what programs already existed, or a true lack of overall resources in general is hard to say, but Pájaro said he didn’t know where to turn.

Regina Suitt, dean of adult education at Pima Community College, also said that what is currently offered isn’t sufficient for the immigrant population of Tucson. There are always waiting lists for the English language programs that Pima runs, she said. Their programs help 6,000 students each year learn English, and still they cannot fit everyone in. Suitt thinks investing in English language acquisition programs is a strong investment in the future of Tucson because most of these people are here to stay. English will help them both contribute and benefit from the local community, she said.

The following video shows the perspective of two immigrants and two community programs in Tucson. They all address English language acquisition and its importance to people that are new to the US.

 

This map provides contact information for different centers in Tucson that offer English classes.

 

B4: Credibility and Excitement

After a disappointing New York Times piece about the new Audi A3, I decided to browse the Wall Street Journal‘s site for multimedia work. I wasn’t looking specifically for car-related material, but I stumbled upon a piece about Ferrari’s new super car, dubbed LaFerrari. I felt like what the NYT piece lacked this one had, and what was great about the NYT video WSJ lacked.

I do think it important to note upfront that a $1.4 million Ferrari is probably a bit more visually exciting than a $32,000 Audi. However, the same general principles apply to making a dynamic multimedia piece.

What the WSJ did that I liked was have more dramatic B roll of the car — it was going fast. It was demonstrating what the reporter was saying it is capable of doing! That made it more visually interesting and exciting to watch. Unfortunately there weren’t any beautiful detail shots like the NYT piece, and I think that would have really finished this video off nicely.

Overall it was a pretty good spot.

http://live.wsj.com/?category=lifestyle#!FCB4954B-407A-4E13-AA81-EB44C80C8909

 

A/B Roll 2: Foreign Friends

Entekhab Al Saraji is just one of thousands of refugees that has relocated to Tucson. She left Baghdad, Iraq after working with the US armed forces during the war for several years. Al Saraji used the resources the Tucson International Alliance of Refugee Communities offers when she arrived, and since 2012 she has been working there in various capacities. Now she is a program coordinator, and primarily oversees their operations with elderly refugees that come to Tucson.

A3: Free Music Lessons

Music has always been a part of Bruce Mortensen’s life — his mother was a concert pianist, he began playing the violin at age 8 and has traveled the world during his 20 years as a member of the Tucson Men’s Chorus. Now he is spending one evening a week teaching others how to read music so they can enjoy it like he does.

The class is free and takes place on Monday evenings at 7 in the Tucson Boys Chorus facilities at 5770 E. Pima St.

Mortensen is enjoying teaching others and quoted his favorite poet to his students: “Let the life you love be what you do.”