Hot Rods

Racer Nicole Lyons gives her picks on the street's top performers

Her love affair with fast, sexy, cars began at age 4. Nicole Lyons remembers the rev of the engine and the exuberance it fueled within her as she sat on her father’s lap. Her late father, famed street racer Jack Davis, introduced Lyons to a fast-paced, gritty racing culture that she has wholely embraced.

Lyons, who began driving at 7, admits to loving every type of racing, though she has focused more on formalized programs. She currently races in several series in the National Hot Rod Association. One of her goals is to win Pro Stock. “It is the most elaborate and the hardest to win,” she explains. “Pro Stock drivers are the best drivers in the world. It is known as the elite.” Drivers at this level know everything about cars.

That alone should qualify Lyons as a contender. She currently custom builds engines and restores classic cars with her husband, Damon, as owners of Cole Muscle Cars (www.colemusclecars.com) in Los Angeles.

Another goal of Lyon’s, is to open a school. “In the classes that I race, I am always the only black woman. I want to gather up more inner-city kids and show them that racing is an option.”

Lyons’ Picks

1] 1969 Camaro SS It’s a classic that Lyons believes should be a part of any serious performance collection. “The lines and curves are beautiful and it is the hottest year.” For Camaro enthusiasts, she recommends keeping an eye out for Chevy’s 2009 version, which she says will be closely modeled after ’69.

2] Z06 Corvette Standing still, it’s got road presence, but this LS7 aluminum-block V8 engine-which is hand-built-performs. Revving 505 horses, it incorporates several racing-derived features that enhance driving functions. And, even at such high performance levels, it does not incur a federal government gas-guzzler penalty. Lyons believes it is sure to become a collector’s item. Starts at $70,000. www.chevrolet.com/corvette

3] Range Rover 2008 There are several systems and features in place to offer superb on- and off-road driving, such as 4-wheel electronic traction control to detect and control wheel spin, as well as the ability to steer over several different terrains. Lyons believes they have really improved performance. She also loves the grill: a one-piece diamond mesh, allowing for maximum air intake for engine cooling, only available in the Supercharged: $93,000. The HSE: $77,950. www.Land RoverUSA.com

Editor’s Picks
4] 2008 BMW M3 Already fans of the M series, we suspect our affections will rise to intense new levels with the M3 for ’08. This machine, which will introduce a V8 4.0 liter unit as its power base, will come with a six-speed standard stick (a huge plus), offers three suspension settings, and hits 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds. www.bmw.com

5] Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera We like it because it’s a showstopper. But aside from looking good, this leaner and lighter construction offers a heady mix of power and speed. Tap the accelerator, and 3.8 seconds is all that separates you from 62 miles per hour. Powered by a 5.0-liter V10 engine and

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