First Gear: What is this?

by Sam Sweet

Definitions for terms or acronyms or abbreviations about or for cars that are frequently mentioned.

ABS- Most modern cars have ABS, Anti-lock Braking Systems, which is where brake force is adjusted to prevent the wheels from locking up.

Boost pressure- The increase above atmospheric pressure used in turbocharging and supercharging.

Catalytic converter- A device using metals similar to and including palladium that chemically reacts with certain emissions from the exhaust and makes them into less harmful to the environment.

Crankshaft- A metal rod with cranks that attach to the pistons and turn their reciprocal motion into rotary motion.

Differential- The special gearbox that splits the incoming torque between the driven wheels.

DOHC- Double OverHead Camshafts. Simply a term that describes an engine with two cams per cylinder rather than one.

Driveshaft- The shaft that transmits power to the differential from the transmission.

ECU- Engine Computer Unit. Literally the computer system that controls the engine.

Exhaust manifold- The system of tubes that collects exhaust gas from the cylinders and moves it toward the catalytic converters and muffler.

Intake manifold- The system of tubes that puts the mixture of fuel and air into the cylinder.

LSD- Limited Slip Differential. A type of differential that limits the maximum difference in speed and torque between each wheel, ensuring both wheels always get some power.

Mid-Engined- a setup where the engine is behind the passengers but ahead of the rear axle. Helps center of gravity and handling improve.

Oversteer- When the back wheels are ahead of the front.

Redline- The maximum revolutions per minute an engine can handle.

Supercharger- A device that allows for more air intake than the engine can do alone. Creates engine drag, as it is powered by the crankshaft.

Transaxle- A differential and transmission combined

Turbocharger- An air compressor that uses an exhaust-driven turbine

Understeer- Where the front wheels don’t turn sharply enough, not enough angular momentum to turn.

First Gear: 2018 Chicago Auto Show

Hey everyone, it’s First Gear writer Sam bringing you news from the 2018 Chicago auto show! Sorry for not taking more photos; I was too busy having a blast. Recommendation: Go straight for the Jeep course, skip the Toyota one. I got there 40 minutes before it opened, and the Jeep line was already outside the ropes, albeit moving fast. The supercar section is relatively average this year. In a sea Bentleys and Rolls Royces, A Lamborghini Urus was an exciting sight.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 3.57.38 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 3.58.51 PM.png

Lotus had a special edition Lotus Evora 400 rpm edition, although maybe next time add the “rpm” after another word.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.00.09 PM.png

Dodge brought the demon, and the widebody hellcat which you could sit in. The demon cleverly was positioned with the wheels off the ground, and there was a drag racing simulator with two demons.


Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.01.03 PM.png

The Fiat 124 Spyder abarth, a louder, more powerful, faster Miata with a black hood.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.02.40 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.01.56 PM.png

Mercedes had their AMG GT-R, a bonkers track car only AMG could make. 577hp and the engine can make 603hp in other cars. Black series soon? Probably once they figure out how to add more carbon fiber.

Audi had many cars including:Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.04.06 PM.png

The new A5 sportback^^

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.05.00 PM.png

The new Rs5^^ with a 2.9L twin turbo V6

Also, the sq5, rs3, TTRS, Q7, and the A6 were displayed.

A Pumpkin’s Version of Halloween

A Pumpkin’s Version of Halloween

by Sophia Taguirov

A pumpkin that changed the Torres’ November…..

Now imagine me, I became a teeny little green, blob, you can say in the month of spring, as those people say. I was the first sprouting in the patch, as far as my eyes could see. I was watered every day and if I didn’t I would become stiff in the inside. It was quite peaceful actually in those days, I slept most of the day and woke up for my daily “shower”, I would talk to the others and share dreams on what is happening further beyond our kind. The cold nights went by therefore came the hot days and the warm nights, I grew fatter orangish, and bigger. Each of the others grew longer, thinner, and way taller. Not knowing that I belonged in the wrong patch, in the wrong place, with the wrong kind I started to feel weak, small and just lonely. Little did I know that I was planted smack dab in the middle of a corn field. I would spent weeks trying to get a glimpse of what was happening out there, was I really just the only one in the whole lot that was different? Or beyond the tall ones were there others like me? I would ask the the taller ones, but they would just say that they couldn’t see any farther than the next row in front of them. It was hopeless.

I woke up to the sounds of a huge, thing-a-ma-doodle. I couldn’t tell what it was but it sounded like somebody that is slowly dying, BR-R-R-R-R! It was slowly cutting down the others! I could see, I could see further! Well, only a few more inches, but, but. No! There were still those tall ones, the tan leafy like plants. They were in my way. I slowly understood. This was not the place for a pumpkin to be.

The days became much cooler. I would think every day, why was I planted here? Who planted me? While I was lost in my daydreams, my eyes could make up some familiar shape! Children… Wait! Children! How come they’re here? I haven’t seen a person in so long! They might help me! I started to yell, “I’m here! I’m here!” But, either they wouldn’t listen or they just couldn’t understand me, they walked away with smiles on their faces. The same thing happened other times in the day, walking off, laughing like it was the best day of their life. I could understand that they didn’t have the best view, but if they just moved the leafy ones aside they would see me, I would see them! And it happened! They were two kids, much different than the others, they were jumping around, bumping into their surroundings, and tearing apart the leafy ones. “ How come there’s a pumpkin in the middle of a corn maze” said the one with the the green shirt on. A corn maze? That’s what they were, they were corns. And I was a pumpkin. It explains why I was much different from them. “ Hey, let’s play soccer with it ‘till mom comes,” said the other one. Soccer apparently is a game that involves kicking a round object, in this case me. The game fortunately lasted only a few minutes until their mum came and told them to leave me alone, “whoever put this pumpkin has a reason to do so” said the mum “let’s find the way out of here and join pops with the carnival” and with that they left. I had so many questions! First of all there is no reason why somebody planted me here! Second, there’s a carnival out there! Wait, what’s a carnival? I bet it’s really fun! And a corn maze….that’s what that thing-a-ma-doodle was doing!

Many families would go by everyday and either pass the place in which I was, or look at me with confusion. I was starting to get old, breaking apart, and smelling pretty bad! My fellow corn friends were getting much darker, and there leaves were getting crisp and falling down. They too had many unfriendly visitors, that would push their way through the plants. During days when there weren’t as many people we would all talk about this so called carnival. I’ve heard families talk about them ,there were rides, pig races, apple bobbing, apple picking, a magic show, and a pumpkin patch. The place where I belonged. There people would look at me and want to take me home. But I was stuck here, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

A couple weeks passed, and again I woke up to the sound of the machine; BR-R-R-R. This time I tried to dodge the sharp scales in the tires because it cut down every single corn plant in the field. This time I could really see! I was the only thing left in the entire land in which there used to be corn. This time I could see beyond the corn, I could see a pumpkin patch, and people taking down massive structures, probably part of the carnival. Maybe if I could just…Ughh. No! I’m stranded here and this is where I’ll be. I was rotting, smelling terrible, and feeling as lonely as ever.

Weeks passed by and it was really cold. Rain would pour down almost every day, and the ground became mushy and wet. There wasn’t a sight of a person, only crows that would come by sometimes. I felt like one of those old grandpas with sticks that were slowly moving through the corn maze, but right now they were probably cosy in their house while I’m about to die in the rain! Until, a boy and a girl came skipping across the land. I could almost make out their figures as they were looking at the rotting pumpkins. Who would want one? Any way, the boy I think spotted me. He showed his sister and they came running towards me. “This is the one!” The girl cried. I didn’t know who these kids were, but I had a feeling that they were the perfect people to be with (definitely not like those boys who pretended that I was a soccer ball!) As they took me home, they covered me in a warm blanket, and I began to feel strength inside of me.

“In the end the others will regret the chances they didn’t take by taking me.”

Everybody knew that. Neptune and Landa had something hidden in that tree house on top of the crispy oak tree Neptune and Landa., Both with round brown eyes that somehow looked red, and pale white skin. Little did they know that their November would be turned into disastrous chaos.

“Landa! Wait up!” Neptune gasped. “It’s 7.45!” “Wwwwaaaaatttttt?” Landa jumped up in her hello kitty pajamas. “We’ll miss the bus!” After a quick minute of clothes, toothbrushes, and screams, Neptune and Landa thundered down the stairs and slid into the kitchen to grab a bagel and dashed out the door, where the bus skidded to a stop just as they stepped outside.

“Just in time.”

The bus lady nodded as she opened the door. She grinned, revealing yellow teeth and fillings. The twins hopped on and were greeted by a series of welcomes and hi’s

Violent but Victorious, The story of Catalonia

by Srikar Vegesna

January 17, 2018

Reasons for Independence

    On October 1st in 2017 the Catalonian Parliament sent a referendum to Madrid which was rejected and was described as illegal. The referendum explained why they wanted to split away and asked Spain to recognize Catalonia as an independent country. The people of Catalonia want to split away because their region was significantly different than the rest of Spain and it seemed more productive if Catalonia were its own country. However, the Spanish Constitution declares that splitting away from the country would be illegal. Thus creating riots. Police were placed in Catalonia and attacked anybody who came to polling stations. They also fired rubber bullets into crowds of voters or protesters and beat up the violent.

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 10.52.23 AM.png

Diverse Catalonia

Catalonia is fairly different from the rest of Spain as it has a different culture and even a different language. Spain is afraid that the Catalonian uprising will influence other provinces to do as the same. This is why the Spanish Government strongly opposes it. Some people say that Catalonia can survive on its own because it has it own government and language, however others believe that Catalonia will not survive on its own and must follow the Constitution. Protests were held everywhere from Barcelona to Tarragona.

Finally, independence arrived when Catalan parliament voted for independence. Now the region became a sovereign country.

Opinion: Drama is Ruining Recreational Sports

by Brady Rivkin

About three-fourths of families in America have at least one child in an organized sport, which is around 45 million children, but, worryingly, nearly eighty percent quit by the time they reach fifteen years of age, says the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. This statistic would mean that by eighth grade, the number of people in programs by the Lincolnshire Sports Association would have dwindled extremely. Why they desert the association has much to do with drama in sports, and it is an atrocious impediment to the improvement and learning in sports by those who are truly serious about progressing in a sport. Drama in sports exists in many forms, some of which exist off the playing field. It could be that someone is told not to sit at a certain table at lunch because they are not “good enough” at sports or not in the travel league. (I still vividly remember the day in fifth grade when I sat down at the “travel” table for lunch and one of the other students told me I couldn’t sit there. I ate there anyway because I did not want to let cowardly ideas control me.) Most, however, are in practices and games, and there it passes on to unassuming children who look up to those considered to be proficient at sports and try to emulate their feats. Classic examples include how so many basketball players practice shooting and a few “fancy” dribbling moves, leading to many more taking out-of-range shots in games and letting down their teams. I used to do that, and my team despised it. Still, it happens in practices and games, and when people are told to practice ball handling more, they dribble into a corner and get trapped. Even though both shooting difficult shots and dribbling into places that make the game difficult have been vehemently warned against in the few years that I have been playing house league basketball, they still happen way too often. When this happens, people’s attitudes toward others become increasingly cruel toward one another and they screech for things like foul calls when they were not even touched. Antics like this are easily preventable, so this epidemic should have been ended long ago. If the LSA truly supports learning, it must commit to shifting the dynamic of its leagues away from that of a cutthroat musical audition. The sake of our futures as children depend on it.


by: Vivian Zhu

In which a girl sits on the Sun in search for home.

ASTRA has been to many places. Many, many places. Whether that be the tip of the Milky Way, or a tiny, rundown town in Africa, her adventures have always been in search for shelter. For a place she could call home.

How many years had passed since then? A thousand? A billion? Now Astra is the universes she traveled to. She sits on top of the Sun of Universes, watching over the Planets of the Universes, and observing as billions of stars explode. Each thing in her universe is a magnification of other ones—one planet represents others in different galaxies.

This has been her home since forever. But where is her real home? There has been a place, right? A place from a long, long time ago…


We are made up of the same stuff as the stars.

                The sun, the moon, the stars. Astra floated down the molten lava of the Sun, feeling the heat of a thousand more as her fingers held the golden liquid.

                “Hey, Sun,” she said, her voice muted in the blackness of space. “How are you?”

                 Her hands were the color of pure energy, faded white and dulled after billions of years of sitting on the Sun. Her once blonde hair, golden and yellow, was blackened into the color of deep space. And the eyes of the girl were no longer warm brown, but clear white with no iris or pupil.

                  The splash of freckles on her face was perhaps the only color in her entire body. The small dots were multicolored, a long time effect from centuries in space. Blue and purple were tucked in the corners of her nose, while soft pink and light teal dotted the frames of her cheeks.

                   Astra wrapped her arms around her legs. Today was worse than the rest—the feeling of loneliness enveloped her insides entirely.

                   “Hey, Sun,” she said absentmindedly, her low voice thoughtful. “Are you ever lonely? Are you ever sad? Do you ever feel like… like there’s something so heavy on your chest that you can’t describe it with one word?”

                    She inhaled sharply. This was a conversation she had held back for as long as she could remember. On the glowing ball of warmth, Astra’s blank eyes of no color felt moist.

                    “What am I saying? You’re not human.” She laughed harshly, but it was cut short with streaming tears.

                     And then it all came out. For the first time in thousands of centuries, her loneliness and desire for home poured out of her. But her tears were not water—they were streams of liquid silver.

                     It was beautiful.

                     Her tears were the same as the stars.

                     And though it was impossible to cry in space, her tears of stars kept streaming down her face, defying gravity and all laws of science.

                     “Hey, Sun,” Astra said, her pale hands reaching to wipe away the silver tears. “You’re not human, so you don’t understand. But I don’t understand why I’m crying either—so does that mean I’m not human too?

                      “What does it even mean to be “human”? What is this place called Earth? Why do I still have memories of a place where I was safe and sheltered?”

                      And when she finally reached her ultimate question, the planets before her shook as her melodious voice rose into a crescendo of volume.

                      “Why am I even here?”

                      In this universe where one planet represented a million others, where one star was the magnification of a billion, why did Astra even belong in a place so desolate and perfect? The planets had no answer as they continued their relentless orbit.

                      “Yes,” she whispered, her voice catching. “Why am I even here?

                     The blazing sun beneath her seemed to shudder. It’s flames of pure energy erupted, engulfing her body in a shower of prickly warmth. Astra was surprised, for she had never felt such a wonderful feeling consuming her body inch by inch. The Sun had never flared, not like this before.

                       Before a word could escape from her lips, the molten star beneath her feet gave way, and then she was falling.


                       Astra opened her eyes. She felt an unfamiliar touch against her body, something that was rough and fuzzy and strange. She sat up, squinting at the sudden brightness.

                        What was this?

                        She seemed to have fell asleep. But how? The last Astra remembered was the sudden blast that came from the Sun, then darkness and falling as she plummeted to the unknown. Where was this, though? Her eyes flitted to the bright enclosure.

                        The word came before she realized it. Tent.

                        A tent. And the thing that was covering her was a blanket, the strange cushion beneath her head was a pillow, and the blinding light coming from outside was…

                        The Sun.

                        “What in the world?” Astra breathed. Her voice caught when she stared at a small oval contraption on the right of her makeshift bed. Mirror, she remembered, but the face she saw in it couldn’t be her own. For as long as her memory stretched, Astra’s hair was black from the darkness of space. Her eyes were white, with no pupil color. The girl in the mirror, though, was a gorgeous beauty with wavy blond locks and dark chocolate irises.

                         “Is this… me?” she wondered aloud, her eyes wide. “Is this… home?”

                         A sudden crash from outside the tent startled her. Astra blinked, watching as a girl popped into her shelter. She was young, way younger than her, with smooth chocolate skin and curious almond eyes. Her hair was close-cropped and curly.

                         A man emerged from behind her. He was thin and reedy, and sandy hair blocked out the lights in his blue eyes. “Hey, Astra. Get up.”

                         Astra obliged. “Where am I?”

                         The man raised a brow. “Really? Now? Did you hit your head or something? Gods, Astra, we need you. Stop with the joking. This is Africa, and we have a mission.”

                         She had no clue what he was saying. “I don’t know who you are.”

                         Anger replaced the mild amusement on his expression. Astra flinched, but before the man could strike her, the young girl with curious eyes stopped him. “She’s not lying. You can see it. Astra, do you not remember us?”

                         The girl in bed shook her head. This was too much for her. The only memory she had was the one of the planets and the Sun.

                         Then the world spun upside down and everything went black.







First Gear

by: Sam Sweet

Everything for 2018!

New: Muscle cars, trucks, sports cars, crossovers and SUVs

Driverless Bolt

The Mustang and the Camaro have always been muscle cars, but the Dodge hellcat is better in a line than both of them. Yes, the ZL1 1LE and GT350R are track monsters, but that isn’t what a muscle car means. However, that

changes now. The new GT500 is confirmed by Ford to have 700+ horsepower. And Chevrolet isn’t far behind. Spy shots reveal a Camaro with new, larger, brakes. Rumors of a Z/28 may prove true. Ford has also announced a new Mustang Bullitt to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original film.

The new Audi A5 lineup added many things. But it got rid of the kingpin, the RS5. And for 2019, it returns with a twin turbo V6 and ceramic brakes.

Many new trucks are available soon, including the updated Silverado, the new Ranger, a new Ram 1500 luxury trim, a revamped version of the ancient Nissan Frontier, and TRD versions of the Tundra and Tacoma. Over in Europe, Renault made a pickup truck! Grand Tour host Jeremy Clarkson quotes it won’t work because, “The Americans don’t want a Renault, and the French don’t want a pickup truck.” Chevrolet is making a medium duty 4500/5500HD soon.

The classic G-class Mercedes has a new generation out, and to no one’s surprise it looks virtually identical to the old one. To celebrate, they fossilized an older model in synthetic resin.

Subaru has made a new 3 row crossover after the failure with the Tribeca.

On a final note, Chevrolet tested an autonomous Bolt without any steering wheel or pedals.

That’s all for now.