As 2019’s finish line approaches, here is a handful of holiday gift ideas geared toward gearheads of any age.

When the owner’s manual doesn’t cut it

Does a friend or loved one have a sports car or one of today’s 500 horsepower-and-up supercars, hyper muscle cars or sedans? Step up with an experiential gift they’ll long remember, appreciate even longer and quite possibly keep them out of trouble.

We’re referring to the Foundations of Road Racing class offered by Driveway Austin, a hidden gem of a driving school and track near Austin. Students get about 100 miles of track time — driving their own cars — on a rendition of the Fiorano Circuit, Ferrari’s private test track near Maranello, Italy.

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In designing the beautiful course, proprietor and former pro racer Bill Dollahite incorporated favorite elements of the tracks he’s driven on.

Some of the topics taught by professional drivers: walking the track, driver positioning, driving line, trajectory and rotation, looking ahead, throttle and braking techniques, and weight transfer. Successfully completing the class opens the doors to advanced classes and the longer track setups, including a corkscrew-style elevation change and long straightaway.

The class is normally $549. Incidentally, if you’d rather not bring your own car, you can elect to use one of Driveway Austin’s race-prepped spec Mazda Miatas for an additional fee. You can also trailer the car you use to the track but it must have a muffled exhaust system.

Jim Gollihar, a biological engineer, bought a 2016 BMW M4 earlier this year and is an alumnus of the Foundations of Road Racing class.

“After two or three months, it was abundantly clear the car had more than I could handle on my own,” said Gollihar. “I wanted them to teach me to the drive the thing in a safe and controlled manner. As a BMW enthusiast, I wanted to learn how to drive the car to its limits safely.”

To set up a gift class, call 512-971-9100 or email [email protected].

Horsepower for rent

Hertz has teamed up with Hendrick Motorsports to offer limited-edition 2020 SS and ZL1 Chevy Camaros for rent in selected cities.

Wearing the Hertz black and yellow livery, both Camaros are outfitted with special equipment. The Hertz-Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1s have a larger Callaway supercharger that helps generate a claimed 750 horsepower from its 6.2-liter V8. They also get custom Hertz wheels; Hertz lighted door sill plates; embroidered headrests with Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron’s signature and the No. 24 team logo and Hertz fender badges. There were 24 ZL1 Camaros made and each one will have its number on a plaque. The ZL1 rents for $299 a day.

The SS version is similarly equipped but sports a 480-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, 20-inch satin-black wheels, Chevy’s cold air intake and cat-back exhaust system and a Hendrick Motorsports-branded strut tower bar.

There will be 200 with each Camaro SS also having a plaque denoting its sequence number. The Hertz rental rate is $99 per day.

The Hertz-Hendrick Camaro SS is available in Houston, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.; Ft. Myers, Florida; Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Florida; Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa, and West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Camaro ZL1s are limited to Charlotte, N.C., Ft. Myers, Florida; Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Florida, and Phoenix.

The rental giant expects the vehicles to be available through most of 2020. They can be booked for daily, weekly or even monthly rentals for up to six months. When the cars are taken out of service they’ll be sold at a price that’s yet to be determined. “There’s no specific cap, but it’s important to keep the mileage low and the cars in top condition for resale, as we anticipate the vehicles will be valued collector’s items,” a Hertz spokeswoman said.

To book one of the Hertz-Hendrick Camaros go to

Wheel thrills for any age

Hot off Hot Wheels’ 50th anniversary, Mattel’s best-selling family of die-cast cars has gone digital. Its new Hot Wheels id line blends the traditional Hot Wheels experience with digital play and uses “smart” id vehicles and track sections that let players monitor and store their vehicles’ performance.

A new “race portal” ($39.99) scans and registers new Hot Wheels id vehicles, tracks speed and counts laps via sensors. The race portal comes with two id vehicles and the portal can also be used to boost a car’s speed. The die-cast id cars have an embedded near-field communications chip that makes them uniquely identifiable. Bought separately, the id cars run $6.99, finally making a Nissan GT-R or Lamborghini Miura affordable.

An important piece is that free app that contains a tutorial and information on optional track setups.

Mattel also offers an id Smart Track kit that’s the way to go for the full mixed experience. Designed for faster action and enhanced racing, jumping and crashing, the setup is recommended for those 8 and older, but we’re sure it will be child’s play for savvy 6-year-olds. ($179.99 at Amazon.)

A loving look at grilles

Like Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile, the gleaming grilles of many cars from the “fabulous Fifties” are etched in our memory. But behind all that chrome lurk some entertaining and enlightening back-stories about post-war America and the fates and whims of the nation’s automakers.

In Great Grilles of the ’50s, authors Mark Misercola and Hank Kaczmarek provide more than just the back-stories on the 10 cars they examine. Giving the book both style and value, the writers render myriad color combinations and the spectrum of color chips that automakers thoughtfully provided in that bygone era, when enamel paints ruled.

The authors have curated the grilles down to the 1952 Pontiac Chieftain, 1953 Packard Caribbean, 1953 Olds Fiesta, 1957 full-size Chevy, 1957 DoSoto Fireflite, 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham convertible, 1957 Ford Thunderbird, 1958 Edsel Citation, 1959 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer and 1959 Pontiac Bonneville convertible.

If you happen to have (or are in search of) one of the above, you will be delighted that the authors also include crucial information like manufacturer’s model and body codes, the original MSRP, the current values for conditions one through four according to Hagerty, as well as info on the engine, transmission and curb weight.

Published by MT Publishing, Great Grilles ($39.95) is available from Amazon.

Wax on, wax off . . .

Shopping for a gift for a man or woman who keeps their ride sparkling clean, inside and out? Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit ($49.98, Amazon) includes a dozen products to let do-it-yourselfers clean, shine and protect their car or truck.

Included are Meguiar’s Gold Class car wash, Gold Class carnauba plus liquid wax, Endurance tire gel, clay bars and Quik Detailer, ScratchX 2.0 that can remove swirls and scratches, interior detailer and plastic cleaner and polish. The bundled price is significantly less than the cost of buying the Meguiar’s products individually. The kit also includes a microfiber towel, foam applicator pad and a microfiber wash mitt.

Cars need sunscreen, too

Windshield screens block the sunlight that often makes the steering wheel or shifter scorching hot and turns your vehicle into an oven. Sun’s rays can also fade or damage your dash covering.

Universal windshield screens are often used, but they can leave gaps, become sloppy over time or start to disintegrate.

A cool solution is a Covercraft’s UVS 100 windshield screen that’s custom-fit to a particular vehicle. A foam core that serves as an insulator is sandwiched between the reflective outward side and the screen’s black backing. The windshield screens are available in five colors. A storage bag is optional. (Amazon, starting at $44)

They do make ’em like they used to

Often one of the first mods enthusiasts make to personalize their car is custom wheels. But when dressing up a vintage ride, a set of reproduction stock wheels is one of the quickest ways to nailing that back-in-the-day look.

Case in point: Chevy’s rally wheels. The slotted deep-dish design was introduced on the 1965 Corvette when disc brakes, which required more inner clearance, were made standard. The silver rally wheels, with slight variations in center caps, eventually found their way to Camaros, Chevelles, El Caminos, Monte Carlos and full-sized sedans.

Classic Industries has sold about 8,000 rally wheels in a range of sizes. They even package them as handy kits that include four wheels, four stainless-steel trim rings, four center caps and their hardware, 20 lug nuts, four wheel locks, four valve stems and a wheel-lock key. Prices vary, but to illustrate, the RWK21 wheel kit with “Disc Brakes Chevrolet Motor Division” caps were on sale recently for $590. On Cyber Monday, Classic will offer discounts of up to 40%.