Archive for July, 2014
The team here at Morrie’s is very excited to announce our upcoming partnership with The Salvation Army and the KS95 radio team – the Buy Happy Backpack Round-Up! Beginning Monday, July 28th drop off a new backpack at any Morrie’s location across the Twin Cities area and we’ll donate $10 in school supplies to The Salvation Army. It’s that simple!
The Salvation Army Northern Division has nearly 800 employees and 81,000 volunteers serving thousands of people in need in every county of Minnesota and North Dakota. With nine Twin Cities store locations, 14 housing locations and 234,00 people served The Salvation Army Twin Cities has been a priceless resource for community members everywhere.
The Buy Happy Backpack Round-Up runs through September 2nd so stop by your local Morrie’s location and do your part to help students start the school year off right!
We made the trip over to Elkhart Lake, WI for a yearly vintage car race. The HAWK with Brian Redman features all different types of vintage race cars (plus current race cars) and events taking place this weekend. There were a few requests for cool and unique race and street cars so we wandered around and took all sorts of pictures. Check back tomorrow for more photos from the event and hopefully some in car GoPro footage to follow!
Here is the link to the schedule and event if you are in the area and want to stop on through:
Whether you see yourself as the kind of person that goes ambling down a rocky, muddy, tree lined road to seek out the perfect camping spot or traverses a sandy beach with a cooler and beach towels in the trunk, this 1987 Land Cruiser is the probably the perfect machine for you. With a beefy 4WD system perfectly set up to handle whatever you can throw at it, and a cavernous cabin that gives you enough room to lie down in the back, the Land Cruiser can get your, your friends, and all your stuff wherever you want to go. Best yet, this thing is built like a tank! It gives you that confidence to take on just about anything.
While the big, 4.2-liter inline-6 engine is merely adequate for getting this behemoth around, it has plenty of torque to spare, whenever you need it to get you into – or out of – trouble. Mated up with a 4-speed manual transmission, there’s a unique sense of masculinity being able to row your own gears in something this big. The extra control will definitely come in handy as you climb up a steep, slippery grade or maneuver over slippery rocks. You’ll barely feel a thing as the big Land Cruiser navigates its way through the urban jungle full of potholes, speed bumps, and angry meter maids.
One big reason the ‘Cruiser is so easy to drive nearly anywhere is because of the huge greenhouse. The cabin is incredibly spacious and airy with lots of window. Despite looking like a juggernaut on the road, the Land Cruiser doesn’t feel like one when you’re driving. The thin pillars and big windows provide excellent sight lines all the way around, something that can’t be said for most modern SUVs. There’s no need to rely on parking sensors and backup cameras with this. With a careful look in the mirrors, parking the big Toyota in nearly any spot is a breeze.
And if you need to park it in the lumber yard at Home Depot or cozy up to one of the loading spots at Ikea, the rear seats fold down completely flat to provide a sizable space to pack in just about anything. Although you can just about fit a couch in the back, you wouldn’t really need it since you can pull down the split tail gate and use it as a perfect picnic bench at the end of a long day. The only thing missing pack there are cup holders!
Despite its age, the FJ60 Land Cruiser provides a surprisingly modern driving experience. The ride is supple, the seats are plush, and there steering and brakes give good, if somewhat isolated feedback. This is truly a vehicle that can meet all the needs of today. It may not have the latest technology like satellite radio or GPS navigation but I can’t think of a better vehicle to get lost far away from civilization in. Find out yourself by borrowing it from Morrie’s Heritage Rental Program.
Late last month our own Michael Ashby took to the track in a Mazda2 TCB race car fro the Cadillac Grand Prix and Road America. We added some photos and videos when he was at the race and you can find a comprehensive race recap below.
RACE 1 – Michael Ashby \ Mazda2 TCB
Michael Ashby returned to Road America in the Miracles of Mitch/Morrie’s Mazda2 TCB racecar for the Cadillac Grand Prix at Road America. Scheduled for two races and one qualifying session, Ashby was ready to take to the track for the first time this year. With the first race results acting as the qualifying event for the 2nd race, Ashby knew he needed to perform exceptionally throughout the weekend to do well and help raise awareness for the Miracles of Mitch foundation.
The qualifying session was held Friday in the early morning which was plagued with two red flags as the track became a mess with two weather-related accidents. Only a handful of cars were able to record valid lap times, this caused Ashby to start at the 14th position.
With Race 1 and 2 on Friday, the heavy fog and rain in the morning was sure to make for an interesting day. Due to the wet track, race officials deemed a rolling start preferential instead of a typical standing start for Race 1.
As the green flag flew, Ashby sped off with hopes of a podium finish. Passing car after car it seemed like Ashby was on pace to take the lead by lap 3. Because the slick roads reduced overall speed the emphasis sided more heavily with taking the proper line allowing for better car control and more exciting racing
Midway through Race 1 Ashby’s cause was helped when two Mini Cooper’s in front of him made contact taking each other out of contention. “Sometimes the easiest passes are made due to other’s mistakes.” said Ashby. “Clearly it isn’t an ideal way to race, expecting others to crash, but motorsports racing can often be measured in inches, and if you are off by a fraction it can lead to some serious issues.”
As the race wore on, Ashby continued his charge to the front. Although the top 3 cars had distanced themselves greatly, Ashby was able to track down Austin Snader in his Fiat 500, ultimately allowing Ashby to overtake and gain the 4th position. Attempting a daring pass on the final lap as the white flag flew, Austin Snader ended up off- line where there was standing water causing him to spin multiple times. With the failed overtake attempt by Snader, Johan Schwartz, in a Honda Fit, moved up to 5th position closing in fast on Ashby. Entering Canada corner Schwartz briefly took a look to the inside, but showed good judgement by backing off rather than risk potential contact with an overzealous move. This left Ashby enough of a gap to fend off a drafting attempt up the main straight on to secure a 4th place finish.
With 10 positions gained throughout Race 1, Sunoco awarded Ashby with the Hard Charger award and was invited to the victory circle. By finishing with the 3rd fastest lap time for Race 1, Ashby earned the 3rd position for the start of Race 2.
RACE 2 – Michael Ashby / Mazda2 TCB
With the sun shining in the late afternoon and the track completely dried out, the Miracles of Mitch/Morrie’s Mazda2 was fitted with Pirelli racing slicks at the 3rd starting position. With a dry track, race officials determined a standing start was in order. After the Cadillac Pace Car led the parade lap, Ashby and his competition were staged on the flat part of the main straight. Michael was positioned next to TCB Race 1 winner, Paul Holton in his Honda Fit. As the yellow lights came on and the revs began to rise, all it took was the final red light to extinguish and they were off.
Ashby made a decent run maintaining his third position into turn 1 but was shuffled back through the long straight down to turn 5. When entering the middle of turn 5, one the the TC class Nissan Altimas was in the midst of a spin followed by a Mini Cooper. Precisely reacting and performing evasive action to avoid contact with the Mini Cooper at the driver’s door, Ashby made a clean pass leading up to the Corvette bridge. Still mired down by 6th place, Ashby went full throttle heating up the Pirelli race tires to work his way back into contention.
Ultimately, he ended up having a race long battle between Nate Stacy in the Ford Fiesta and Austin Snader in the Fiat 500. All three of them swapping positions multiple times, even during the course of a single lap. On the final lap, Nate Stacy, attempting an outbraking maneuver into turn 5 ended up sliding wide allowing Ashby to overtake him with Austin Snader following close behind. The race wasn’t quite as successful as Round 1 with Ashby finishing a hard fought 5th place.
Overall, it was a great weekend and many people enjoyed seeing a driver who was dedicated to proper race driving and raising awareness for such a worthy foundation. For more info on Miracles of Mitch, please visit
What do you drive if you have always wanted an original Shelby Cobra but don’t have a spare $1,000,000 lying around? How about something even more unique that has a connection to super spies such and James Bond and Maxwell Smart? This 1967 Sunbeam Tiger may be the car for you!
Based on the nimble but woefully underpowered Sunbeam Alpine, the Rootes Group copied Carroll Shelby’s formula for the AC Cobra and shoved a 260 cubic inch Ford V8 into the engine bay and named it the “Tiger” after the roar that now emanated from the twin exhaust pipes. While the small V8 added some extra weight, the additional mass was more than offset by nearly doubling the horsepower from 93 hp up to 164 hp. Now instead of a 99 MPH top speed for the Alpine, the Tiger was capable of speeds over 120 MPH. This was a properly fast sports car for the 1960’s!
Even by modern standards, the Sunbeam Tiger holds up as a reasonably fast sports car. The small V8 loves to rev and provides plenty of torque, propelling the car from 0-60 in about 8 seconds, about as fast as a modern Miata. The difference, however, is that the Tiger feels infinitely more engaging to drive. The 4-speed manual transmission takes firm, deliberate shifts. The small, wooden gear shift lever fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, making each shift a pleasurable experience. The clutch pedal gives your left leg quite the workout as well. This isn’t a car you want to be stuck in traffic in. Instead, the Tiger begs you to aim it down the twistiest road you can find and stomp on the go pedal.
The brakes and steering are both unassisted as well. They require quite a bit of effort to work, but once up and moving, the feedback they provide is incredibly rewarding. The thin gauge wood-rimmed wheel is quintessentially British, and large enough to make low-speed maneuvers with the manual steering rack somewhat bearable. As the speeds increase, the wheel comes alive in your hands and despite some slack in the suspension, the small amount of body roll just serves to better explain the weight transfer going on underneath you. The harder you press the Tiger, the more natural it feels.
It’s a sensation you won’t soon forget. The wind in your hair, the small V8’s engine note blaring out of the exhaust pipes behind you. It’s a car that loves to be thrown around a little bit but must be treated with respect. The Tiger is a playful cat but one that will bite you if you don’t respect it. If you want to take your special someone out for a weekend trip, there’s even plenty of room for luggage in both the trunk as the shelf behind the seats.
You can experience the ’67 Sunbeam Tiger for yourself soon as part of Morrie’s heritage rental program rolling out later this summer!
Guest blog post written by: Alex Bellus – a well-known automotive photographer in the Twin Cities area and a frequent attendee of MN C&C at the Automotorplex. He is an Automotive Analyst for IHS Automotive and has a wide range of automotive knowledge. Keep your eye out for his next Blog Post where he will highlight another popular Morrie’s vehicle!
Mazda has announced that the all new 2016 Mazda Miata will be revealed on September 3rd and that instead of an “evolution” the car will be a “revolution.” An article at YahooAutos suggests that the new car may indeed be turbocharged. They suggest that a turbo whoosh can be heard in the video and that test mule citings confirmed turbo noise. We of course cannot confirm the turbo engine, but regardless we can’t wait for the reveal in just a couple month’s time.
You can view the official Mazda teaser video below.
We had a blast at MNC&C today! We saw the best turn out so far this year and with that came plenty of great cars to look at. We put together a photo gallery from today’s event:
In case you’re still making last minute plans for the fourth of July we put together a comprehensive list of fireworks displays and other events celebrating Independence Day.
Fireworks — Friday July 4
Apple Valley: Fireworks at 10pm at Johnny Cake Ridge Park
Blaine: Fireworks at 10pm at the National Sports Center
Bloomington: Fireworks at 10pm at Normandale Lake Park
Chanhassen: Fireworks start at 10pm at Lake Ann Park
Chaska: Fireworks start at 10pm at McKnight Park
Coon Rapids: Fireworks at 10pm
Eagan: Fireworks at 10pm at Eagan Festival Grounds
Eden Prairie: Fireworks at 10pm at Round Lake Park
Edina: Fireworks at 10pm at Rosland Park
Excelsior: Fireworks start at 10pm. Commons Park in Excelsior is the hub of Excelsior fireworks activities
Maplewood: Fireworks start at 10pm in Hazelwood Park
Marine on St. Croix: Fireworks at 10pm in the Village Square
Minneapolis: Fireworks start at 10pm along the river in Downtown Minneapolis
Prior Lake: 10pm at Mystic Lake Casino
Richfield: 10pm at Veteran’s Memorial Park
Roseville: Fireworks at 10pm in Central Park
St. Cloud: Fireworks at 10pm best viewed between Wilson and Hester parks
St. Louis Park: Fireworks at 10pm at Aquila Park
St. Paul: Fireworks begin at 10pm at the State Capital Mall
Stillwater: Fireworks begin at 10pm in Downtown Stillwater.
White Bear Lake: Fireworks begin at 10pm at Memorial Beach
Woodbury: Fireworks begin at 10pm at Bielenberg Sports Center
Fireworks – Saturday, July 5
Delano: Fireworks begin at 10pm in Central Park.
Mendota Heights: Fireworks at 10pm at Mendakota Country Club
Other Independence Day Activities
Taste of Minnesota
A series of concerts andJuly 3 through July 6, Carver County Fairgrounds
Thursday, July 3
8:30 pm – Soul Asylum
Friday, July 4
8:30pm – Starship
Saturday, July 5
8:30pm – Halestorm
Sunday, July 6
8:30pm – Joe Nichols
Delano 4th of July Celebration
Minnesota’s oldest and largest fourth of July celebration includes a 5k, a bean bag tournament , parade, food and fireworks.
Friday, July 4
9:15am - 5k race
10:30am – 4th of July Parade
Saturday, July 5
10:00am – Bean Bag Tournament
10:00am – Fireman Waterball Tournament
Fort Snelling Independence Day Celebration
8am to 5pm on July 4th — Cannon salutes, War of 1812 reenactment, fife and drum music, plus more.
Lake Minnetonka 4th of July Airshow
7:45pm to 9pm — Excelsior Bay and surrounding area
Minneapolis Red, White and Boom
This two day celebration includes music, food, running races and of course fireworks
Thursday, July 3
Hot Dam 5k – 6:30pm at the Stone Arch Bridge
Live Music and Movie –7pm at the Nicollet Island Amphitheater
Friday, July 4
TC Half Marathon – 6:30am beginning in Northeast Minneapolis
Red, White and Boom Fireworks – 10pm along the downtown Minneapolis riverfront
Firecracker 5k and 10k
8:30am – City of Excelsior