Does the world need yet another car show? Of course! That is, if it's run by Car Audio and Electronics magazine and sponsored by Arc Audio, Alpine Electronics, Kicker, Kenwood, Acoustic Edge, Focal Audison, Pontus, Crossfire Audio, Carsponsorships.com, A3, Icon-TV, Extreme Autofest, Lowrider Magazine, SEMA, and IAS. Trifecta is a little different from your typical show car competition. They gathered some of the top builders and automotive-related designers in the country to judge enthusiast rides. These guys judged not only the overall car in terms of aesthetics and build quality but also the sound quality of the audio systems. And just for fun-and some bonus points-they measured the SPL (sound pressure level) as well. Something else that's different about Trifecta? The top two winners from each event are invited to be on stage at the SEMA Show for ultimate judging and a big cash prize.

The judging came down to about five cars. In the end, the winner was no surprise. Justin Efkowtiz and his 300M packed with Focal and Audison gear took the $500, the invite to SEMA '06, and a feature in Car Audio and Electronics magazine. Second Place went to a bit of sleeper. Dave Hary's Audi S4, with Rockford Fosgate amps and subs, picked up the max SPL points and scored very high in sound quality to earn $250 and the invite. Third Place and the $125 went to Ryan Shutt's Civic with a Polk Audio-equipped system. As for the other competitors. Those in the Top Ten will be ranked and have the opportunity to work on their mods and systems and compete again to move up the chain. Look for full coverage online at www.caraudiomag.com.

Gm's New Two-Stage Hybrids
OK, before you flip this page thinking it's just a puff piece for the Toyota Prius, hold tight. Soon you'll be able to get a cutting-edge hybrid system on your fullsize GM truck or SUV. And by cutting-edge, we're not just regurgitating press release hyperbole. This is a genuinely revolutionary system. The initial release was in German and English, and was 17 pages long. So, we're giving you the quick and dirty condensed version here. Why was it in German? The system was co-developed by GM, DaimlerChrysler, and BMW, and was intended for use in future luxury sedans. So, you know if it's good enough for the BMW 7-series, it's definitely good enough for a Chevy Tahoe.

First off, unlike the Prius and most other hybrids currently on the market, which are "one-stage" hybrids, meaning the output from the gasoline engine is transferred directly to a planetary gearset, and the output is split between a mechanical path and an electrical path. Most of the output goes through the transmission and is transferred to the final drive to move the vehicle. The remainder of the output goes back to the electric motor or the battery pack.

The problem with this type of system is it generally only works effectively on small to midsize vehicles. Scaling it up to work on larger vehicles would make the components too bulky and expensive to make economic or packaging sense.

Enter the two-stage hybrid. The fundamental difference between it and the prevailing one-stage hybrid is that it integrates the electric motors of a hybrid system with the multiple ratios of a conventional automatic, combining the best of both to create a robust system capable of heavier loads, as well as optimizing performance and efficiency. While it can operate as a one-stage hybrid by channeling engine output between the transmission input and power production, it also has at least four other geared ratios to work with, providing responsive acceleration at both low urban speeds and at freeway speeds.

In the literature of the press release, cylinder deactivation was also mentioned, so it's likely that Active Fuel Management will be a part of this system, and seeing that almost all the 5.3L V-8s in the Tahoe are flex-fuel capable, so the new hybrids will pack a triple-whammy of having hybrid power, cylinder deactivation, and running on an alternative fuel. The '08 Tahoe, the first vehicle expected to employ this system, will likely go on sale in spring to summer of 2007. As soon as we can get one in our hands, rest assured we'll give it a comprehensive real-world shakedown and a no-B.S. thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

The Sport Truck 10 Mostly Worthless Facts
1. In January of 1926, the Bureau of Public Roads announced that Indiana had the most paved roads in the U.S., including the Interstate Highway system. The state had more than 48,000 miles of paved road, while California had just 18,002 and New York had just 9,626. Ironically, Rhode Island had just 777 miles of paved roads. OK, it's a really small state, so it's not that ironic.

2. Way before Chevy brought its Suburban SUV to market, Studebaker debuted the first Suburban. The year was 1908, and Studebaker's vehicle was an open passenger car that could be converted to a baggage car simply by taking out the rear seat.

3. In 1978, GMC marketing geniuses added an important option to the Caballero (think El Camino). If you stepped up and chose the "Diablo" package, not only did you get a cool decal on the hood, but instead of the suck-ass 95hp 200cid V-6 engine, you got a super-cool 235cid V-6 that belted out-are you ready for this?-105 hp! Whooee!

4. Sport Truck's in-house editorial staff is four dudes strong, but some days we feel like an army of 12.

5. On Labor Day in 1992, the first ever STA-BIL Nationals lawnmower race was held in Chicago. Nothing was said about the Leafblower Nationals.

6. In 1898, the New York City police department chased speeding motorists on bicycles, not cars. Those must have been some slow cars.

7. Buick introduced electric turn signals in 1938.

8 .Most American car horns beep in the key of F. Kevin belches in the key of G-as in Gross!

9. In 1916, 55 percent of the autos roaming the streets of the U.S. were of the Model T variety, and that's a sales record that has never been equaled.

10. There are 127,000,000 automobiles in America, and if they all cruised at the same time the line would circle the globe 18 times.

Sport Truck Slang Term of the Month
SHAVED-Shaving your sport truck refers to the act of giving it a smoother, cleaner appearance by removing any bulbous features and filling in the remaining holes. To shave an item like a door handle requires the removal of the handle, filling in the holes and smoothing the sheetmetal to make it appear that the handle was never there. It's also a good idea to figure out a new way to open the door afterward.

Boomin' Granny Retires
For the past 10 years, a crowd of well-wishers has surrounded Alma Gates at every car audio competition she's attended, from Spring Break to MECA to IASCA. They ask her for advice. They compare notes on SPL and SQ, and are especially curious about what it took to make her two famous Ford Broncos the loudest in the world. And at the USACi Finals in Kansas City in October, the same well-wishers will have one final chance to eat up Gates' wisdom. The (grand) mother of car audio will bid a fond farewell to her friends there, as she officially departs the car audio competition circuit to pursue other interests.

"It's going to be very emotional," Gates said of her impending retirement. "Since 1996, I've had the privilege of sharing my passion for car audio with people from all over the world. One of the hardest parts about leaving will be not seeing all my friends on a regular basis. I've been fortunate enough to gain an extended family around the world, thanks to car audio, and that I will truly miss."

Gates' first Ford Bronco retired two years ago after numerous notable firsts in the SPL history books. The first to "blow hair," the old Bronco built up so much sound pressure that it made hair stand on end, much to the delight of curious bystanders, children, and camera-wielding journalists. Affectionately dubbed "The Beast," the Bronco set an SPL world record in 1996, its first year competing, and paved the way for further records. In 11 events over the next two years, Gates and her Bronco were credited with raising the Sound Pressure Level by an unprecedented 15dB.

Fast forward to Spring Break Nationals 2005, when Gates' all-new, second Bronco debuted with Team JBL to steal the thunder in Sound Quality competitions for the first time ever. It went on to take First Place and Best of Show at MECA, and brought home the first of many trophies to come.

Termed the "Boom Box Granny" by CNN, the 71-year-old Gates has intrigued the press, as well as her ardent followers, with the endearing story of how she became immersed in car audio. A former schoolteacher from Phoenix, Gates joined the industry 10 years ago alongside her then-teenage son. She never could have predicted that the hobby she enjoyed with her son and his friends would become a full-time job and her passion. Upon retirement later this year, Gates hopes to delve into another hobby with her son-real estate. She's even thinking of taking a few classes to brush up on the subject.

Clevite Named Official Engine Parts Supplier for AERA E85 Power
The Automotive Engine Rebuilder's Association (AERA) has selected Clevite Engine Parts to be the official supplier of engine parts for its ethanol-fueled engine-building competition. Dubbed the E85 Power Shootout, this competition will be held in conjunction with AERA's RPM (Racing, Performance engines, Machinery) Show to be held in Indianapolis August 30 to September 1, 2006, Clevite Engine Parts will supply Clevite engine bearings, Perfect Circle piston rings, and Victor Reinz gaskets to all competitors.

This engine building competition is actually a demonstration project to show the viability of ethanol-based fuels in automotive engine applications. E85 refers to a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Six teams will build engines based on existing domestic or import platforms. These engines will be dyno-tested during the AERA RPM Show, where horsepower, torque, and fuel consumption will be measured. These parameters will be weighed against engine displacement, and a winner will be determined based on these factors.

The U.S. Department of Energy notes that the availability and use of E85 is growing, nationally. E85 is designed for use in flexible fuel vehicles, referred to as FFVs. According to the Energy Information Administration, there are more than four million light-duty flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in the United States. These are operated by private citizens, as well as business and government fleets. FFVs may fuel with either E85 and/or gasoline, interchangeably. Most FFVs are still fueled with gasoline, but the availability of E85 and FFVs is expected to increase significantly in the next few years.

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