Lesson of the Day: ‘Formula 1 Roars Into Miami, Where Cars Are Already King’

ByLavinia E. Smith

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Featured Article: “Formula 1 Roars Into Miami, Where Cars Are Already King” by Patricia Mazzei

Do you like cars? What kind of car do you hope to own or drive one day?

In this lesson, you will learn about the culture of souped-up cars, luxury cars and collector cars that has flourished in Miami for decades. In a Going Further activity, we invite you to design the car of your dreams.

Part 1: Share your experiences and opinions about cars

Do you know how to drive? Do you have a driver’s license? If not, do you hope to drive one day?

Take a few minutes to reflect on the role of cars in your life and in your dreams for your future. Then, respond to one or more of the following prompts in writing or through discussion with a partner:

  • What is your experience, if any, with driving? If you have your license, how difficult was it for you to pass the test? What aspects of driving are you particularly good — or particularly bad — at? If you don’t have your license, are you working toward getting it? Why or why not?

  • How would you describe the car culture in your community? Do people depend on cars? Is getting a driver’s license an important rite of passage for teenagers? Do people customize or collect cars? How central are cars to your work, school, family and social life?

  • What’s your dream car, if you have one? How would you want it customized if you could afford to do anything? Why?

Read the featured article, then answer the following questions:

1. The article begins: “The bald and tattooed man known as Juice cruises South Florida in a car named Charlie Brown.” Why do you think the Times reporter, Patricia Mazzei, begins with the story of Juice and his “donk,” a customized 1970s Chevy high-riser with large wheels? What does Charlie Brown tell us about Miami and its car culture?

2. Why is the popularity of Formula 1 growing in America, according to the article?

3. Look at the photographs and their captions featured in the article: What story do they tell about cars, car culture and their drivers? Which images stands out to you and why?

4. How does Miami’s car culture compare with that of Los Angeles, which Ms. Mazzei calls the capital of America’s iconic car scene. Why has a large community of people collecting and restoring cars grown in South Florida?

5. The article notes that around 80 to 100 cars an hour and more than 1,000 cars a day visit a single location of El Car Wash in North Miami. What does the popularity of the carwash chain tell us about the challenges and importance of protecting cars in South Florida?

6. Geoffrey Karas, a co-chief executive of El Car Wash, and originally from New York says, “People spend a lot of time in their car, and it’s also a status symbol and a way of life down here, much more than in the Northeast. It’s just part of the Miami lifestyle.” How does the car culture where you live compare with that of South Florida? Do you wish your hometown’s love and appreciation of cars could be more like Miami’s?

7. Why does Ira Shapiro, 68, a past president of the local chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America, have mixed feelings about the new Miami Grand Prix, despite being a Formula 1 fan since the 1970s? Do you think the race will become a big hit in South Florida? Do you think the sport will ever rival NASCAR in America?

8. What are your biggest takeaways from reading the article? What did you find most fascinating, surprising or memorable? Does the article make you more interested in cars, car culture or Formula 1? If you could own any of the cars featured in the article, which would it be and why?

Option 1: Learn more about Formula 1 car design

Sweeping changes to the rules dictating Formula 1 car design have upended the team standings this year, representing “the biggest aerodynamic overhaul in 40 years,” according to Paul Monaghan, the chief engineer at Red Bull Racing.

Read “How Formula 1’s Car Redesign Is Changing Racing” to learn more about these changes — the science behind them and their impact on the sport. Then, respond in writing or through discussion with a partner: What was most fascinating, surprising or memorable? In your own words, what roles do physics and aerodynamics play in the sport of Formula 1 racing? Do you think the new changes will improve the safety of drivers and the success of the sport? Why or why not?

Option 2: Design (or redesign and customize) your dream car!

Inspired by the souped-up cars featured in this article? Now it’s your turn to create your dream automobile! Lowrider versus donk? Sports car versus all-terrain vehicle? Classic versus futuristic? What’s your fantasy ride?

Design, sketch and label your ideal car. Whether it is big or small, practical or fantastical, be sure to consider color, style and materials as well as major automobile features, such as the body, interior, windows, wheels and rims.

Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.