If you are a supplier of goods or services to the classic and vintage sports car market, click here.
IndyCar Amazing Race – Porsche Pics – Much More
We have an action packed issue this week. Editor Dom Miliano was in French Lick, IN for the Porsche National Convention and came back with some neat pictures. We also have some images from Thompson’s rain shortened Historic Vintage weekend and many good stories. (We at MMR often say there are only two things in life: good times and good stories.)
Michael Furman - Photographer
Our Car’s Yeah! Podcast is with Tina Van Curren, owner of Autobooks-Aerobooks, the enthusiast’s bookstore in Burbank CA since 1951. A-A has recently moved seven blocks and is this issue’s featured supplier from our Resource Directory.
Classic Classifieds this week features some interesting Porsches.
IMSA Tudor at Watkins Glen 6 Hours: Just Gets Better
The series is getting better with every race. Watkins Glen was amazing. The weather was the story. Dry, wet, rain, fog, it was all there. The Series leading Taylor Daytona Prototype Corvette dominated the race in the wet and the dry. With 45 minutes to go Ricky Taylor lost adhesion in the last turn before the pit straight and opened the door for the Westbrook Chevy to beat the Ganassi Ford. In Daytona GT, the non-factory Dodge Viper won with Marc Goosens. Astounding! GT LM was won by Porsche.
Ford at Le Mans
Ford released images of the race-prepared 2016 WEC Ford GT and it is beautiful. Ganassi will be running the effort and in a trackside interview, Scott Pruett confirmed that all is on schedule to introduce the car for the 2016 season. It will run the Ford six cylinder Eco-boost engine, which they ran at Watkins Glen and led much of the last part of the race, only to finish second when they needed a splash of fuel. Great racing and super coverage by Bob Varsha, Calvin Fish, and Tommy Kendall.
TK is our Hero
Congratulations Tommy Kendall on being inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame. Our home page video is of TK discussing his induction. Well done.
IndyCar: Amazing Race – How Rare Thou Art
Before a very small crowd, the IndyCar MTA-TV 500 at Fontana on Saturday took place at a horrible track and yet produced an incredible race.
The IndyCar race at Fontana was unquestionably the finest combination of bravery, skill, and foolhardiness seen in pro racing in decades. If the norms of our times prevail, someone will surely put an end to it. And some drivers will be torn as to whether it should be so.
Readers Warning: The following will ramble.
It began with Man’s beginning. The excitement of eliminating or evading the danger posed by animals or circumstances that might harm, was triggered by “fear”. Some would argue that, other than our fellow man, we have eliminated most of the natural sources that once prompted that fear. But we have retained the capacity to fear and modern man has found that overcoming danger can be both a challenge and a stimulant. Under stress, the body produces “adrenaline” which heightens the senses and sometimes allows the achievement of feats not ordinarily possible. It also produces a pleasant, and possibly addictive, “endogenous morphine” called “endorphins” which decrease the feelings of pain and lead to feelings of euphoria.
An aside: The entertainment industry has simulated and monetized our primal fears. Ferris Wheels at County Fairs stimulate our natural fear of heights and motion. Their modern cousins are the studio created “theme” rides. Here patrons strap themselves into pneumatically operated chairs for a predetermined, computer coordinated time. We are simultaneously bounced around, assaulted audibly and visually by loud noises, and all encompassing movie screens projecting the "fear" flavor of our choosing. Brilliant! The long and constant lines to experience these faux fears attest to our apparent craving to be so stimulated.
Again, in keeping with societal demands, racing has striven to eliminate any real fear of death and, like the studios with bouncing chairs, it simulates danger while tantalizing the viewer with morbid fears of possible disaster.
On June 30, 2013 nineteen firefighters were killed near Yarnell, Arizona when winds shifted, trapped, and killed them. It was the deadliest wildfire since 1991.
It sticks in my mind because I was traveling home in my 308 from a visit with friends in Phoenix. They suggested I take this particular route because the road offered beautiful scenery and the opportunity to ignore the speed limit on sweeping and scarcely patrolled roads. They were correct. As I was enjoying my car at a comfortable 85 MPH I saw and smelled the smoke from the wildfires and listened to the stories on my radio about the local firefighters, most well trained locals, who were battling it.
We will return to the speed I was traveling later.
As I write this it is almost two years ago to the day that this tragedy occurred and in hindsight the death of these men has been considered, by some, avoidable. In December of that year the Industrial Commission of Arizona deemed that the State had “knowingly put the protection of property ahead of safety and should have pulled the crews out earlier”. Their commander had made a choice to send them from a burned out area, where they were safe, to save a nearby town which had been evacuated. I am certain that every man who died was fearful to different degrees. I am also certain that every man saw the risk as a challenge for which he was prepared and excited. The excitement was caused by “fear”.
Fear is instinctive and a part of each of us. Men, particularly young ones, and women, more today than ever before, thrill at risk.
Another aside: Thirty years ago I was on a 40 foot sailboat off St. Vincent in the British Virgin Islands. We were returning to St. Vincent to repair our non-functioning engine when we were hit by a force 4 gale. The boat was well equipped. We were seven people aboard and we were running just enough sail to allow us to control our general direction. I know nothing about sailing, but I can take direction, so I was helping our hired captain in any way I could. The atmosphere was tense and we were all excited. At some point I noticed that a mop, lashed alongside the cabin had come loose and was in danger of falling overboard. Holding tightly to the rails on the cabin and the lines that ran from stanchion to stanchion around the boat I moved from the safety of the cockpit to “rescue” the mop. “Foolhardy” is a kind word for what I did. "Stupid" is more accurate. In those seas, with no lifejacket and a boat with no motor, the chances of the boat turning around and finding me would have been slim. Why did I do it??? Well, the feeling of fear and the sense of accomplishment from that 25 foot walk was exhilarating. I wouldn’t compare my stupidity with the bravery of those firefighters. But, it had to have crossed at least one firefighter’s mind that his choices were to stay comparatively "safe" in the middle of a burned out area in the middle of the day, or take a chance and save a bunch of buildings. To a man they went. And I understand that.
In my late teens, I was participating in a club race meet at Mosport, near Bowmansville, Ontario. The spot next to me in the paddock was occupied by a well-known Formula Vee driver. Race weekends are always very busy and though we had met before at other races we were just like all the other guys parked next to each other. We weren’t together but we would have helped each other. That’s how it was. He was killed on Saturday when his car went off the back straight.
They parked the wreck next to our pit and Sunday, mid-morning, when I came in after my race, it and all his “stuff” were gone. Just like that. We all said the right things about him being a great guy and a really good driver and how he died doing what he wanted to do. Not one of us ever thought that it would happen to us. Yet the reason we raced, to some extent, was to see just how close we could come to disaster, the edge, the limit, or numerous other words that implied disaster, perhaps death. But not likely to happen.
Back to when I was doing 85 in Arizona. I was 68 years old. Had I been 38 years old, I would have been doing 90. And had I been 18 years old I would have been testing the limits of adhesion. Badly, and with adrenaline.
As one ages, whether or not one matures, one learns. Whether by accident or by design those “learnings” define our thoughts and actions going forward. If one is the slightest bit introspective, they explain many things that seemed puzzling in the past.
Many years ago I watched a TV show about marathoners. Runners were being scientifically analyzed and compared to other athletes who competed in sprints. Basically, it was determined that to compete successfully in these two disciplines required distinctly different muscle fibers structures. The sprinters had “fast" twitch muscles which were quick and powerful. “Slow" muscles enabled the low intensity required for marathon running.
While this information defines and separates us physically, our aspirations don't recognize the difference. Upon reflection, this physiological fact of our being might shed light on events in our lives that have defined who we are and what we believe ourselves capable of being. My father was a gifted athlete who played hockey and baseball and competed well into his fifties against much younger men. He had excellent eyesight and physical dexterity. We had little in common. He was very competitive in nature and sports were very important to him. I imagine now that I must have been a disappointment.
A 10 mile foot race, at age 39, was the first time I realized I could run distances comfortably and competitively for my age and running became a life-long love. The knowledge that we all possess either “fast” or “slow” twitch muscle fibers color how I view all sports and my personal ability to excel in them. Particularly, motorsports.
Denise McCluggage told me that Sir Stirling Moss could pick flies out of the air and read the fine print in a certificate mounted on a wall across the room. I have heard the same extraordinary qualities attributed to Juan Manuel Fangio. The protagonist of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, Test Pilot Chuck Yeager, is described as equally gifted. Defined by their natural abilities, these are special people who have found the occupation, niche, or sport which suits their set of particular physical attributes and allows them to succeed.
There is no doubt that today’s top drivers are all “fast” twitch equipped and gifted in additional complimentary ways such as size, eyesight, experience etc. Proof was on exhibit at the IndyCar race on June 27, 2015 at Fontana in California.
As we write this, Graham Rahal is the declared winner of the race. However, on lap 187 of 250, Rahal left the pits with a portion of the refueling rig attached to his car. It fell off at the track entrance and the race was yellow flagged. IndyCar did not assess a penalty immediately but allowed that they would review the incident after the race. Derek Walker, IndyCar’s competition manager, told the announce crew that the race stewards would definitely assess a penalty at race’s end. They fined him $5000. Not much in dollars but big in percentages when you calculate that the win paid $30,000.
The Race: Teams have complained to IndyCar that driving cars with similar aero packages and engine power creates an equality that results in what is called “pack” racing. The cars don’t have the power to get away from one another and are moved around on the track involuntarily as they pass and repass each other. The race was 250 laps on a two mile banked oval track with average race lap speeds of 215 mph and speed on the straights over 220 mph. From the drop of the flag “pack racing” was on. Official lead changes are measured once per lap at the start-finish line. There were a record 80 official lead changes. Certainly far more than twice that overall. The track is 75 feet wide with a 15 foot apron and the racing was often three and four cars wide with occasional moments of five wide racing. It was incredibly risky. All the leading drivers took part.
These are comment highlights from drivers and Team Managers after the race:
Will Power: What are we doing? What are we doing? As exciting as it is, it is insane. It is crazy! Crazy!
Tony Kanaan: It was a crazy race. It’s a great race for the fans but hopefully we get together and come up with a better solution.
Tim Cindric, Pres. Penske Racing: We talked about (putting an end to) this kind of racing. I am sure it is fun to watch but it is very difficult.
AJ Foyt: I enjoyed this kind of racing when I was doing it.
Marco Andretti: I enjoy it. It is definitely crazy. It was definitely great for the fans.
Juan Pablo Montoya: This was definitely crazy and sooner or later someone is going to get hurt.
Tony Brooks was a highly talented British driver who was the fourth winningest Grand Prix driver of the fifties behind Moss, Fangio, and Ascari. In a recent interview, Brooks, who retired early, said he felt that racing was too dangerous then. Three or four drivers per year were dying. It would be years and many more driver’s lives lost before track safety got us to where we are today. Ayrton Senna was the last F1 driver to die on a track. That was in 1994. In 1999, IndyCar's Greg Moore died at Fontana.
Overall, we take a couple of things away from the post race interviews. One, everyone interviewed said it was exciting. Most agreed it was dangerous. This is the best race we have seen in a long, long time. IT WAS EXCITING! We don’t want to see anyone hurt or killed but we do want to see more “exciting racing”. Don't change a thing.
Gordon Kirby: IndyCar racing has issues. Venues and scheduling leading the pack. This week’s Gordon Kirby column in MotorSport addresses these issues in detail. He feels that less downforce and more engines are the answer. Perhaps he is correct. In the meantime, while New Orleans was unquestionably a low point, since then Indy, Barber, and certainly Fontana, were a damn sight more entertaining.
Robin Miller: Always controversial and seemingly never concerned about political correctness. You don’t want to dance with him, he steps on toes. Miller has a similar take on dates and venues but agrees with us about how good that race on Saturday really was and has a message for IndyCar management. Watch his video.
Tracks Access Grows
This story was prompted by our visit to the Vintage Motorsports Festival at Thompson Speedway on June 20th. We had the opportunity to watch good people having a good time.
Automotive folklore tells us that the first auto race took place when the second car was built. That may be an exaggeration but it is likely true.
The first car races were point to point affairs, generally between towns along crazed-spectator-lined dirt roads. Once the cost to flora and fauna was calculated, the racing madmen and their equally mad followers were confined to circuits where they were encouraged to damage each other, but little else, to their hearts content.
The sport of driving like hell to get back to the spot from which you all started gradually adapted itself to the differing styles of mayhem the participants were most comfortable inflicting on each other. At the same time, as well heeled Europeans were strapping themselves to thin tubes and careening around paved circuits meant to resemble the country roads from which they were banned, Americans were throwing dirt at each other in powerful Champ Cars on unpaved ovals in every small town that owned a fair ground.
Tracks evolve in response to the evolution of the cars that run on them. No one track suits multiple racing disciplines, though many try. And, not by accident, the most successful tracks in each discipline are those that can limit the performance parameters of the vehicles using them. For instance, each year a small group of parochial Frenchmen convene to concoct a new set of rules that will encourage ambitious foreigners to spend fortunes building cars that will survive a 24 hour beating on their public roads. Historically French cars dominated something entitled the Index of Performance class. It was essentially an economy run in the middle of the fastest race in the world. Oddly, the rules always favored cars built by French manufacturers. It was eventually phased out. Today’s Prototype II class, a less powerful version of the exciting lead cars, is dominated by French chassis manufacturers. Our point here is that Le Mans dominates the WEC series and their rules dictate rules for all the other races in the WEC series.
IndyCar rules are made to best suit the Indianapolis Speedway and their premier event, the Indy 500. NASCAR is owned and governed by the family that owns and governs the Daytona Speedway. The most closely regulated, least consistent and most political set of rules is Formula 1. And the quality of the races reflect it. Owned by an investment company and operated by a brilliant manipulator, the governing rules of F1 are set by the FIA, a world motorsport sanctioning body based in Paris. Rules are made in consultation with committees appointed by the race teams. F1’s iconic track is a street circuit in a hilly tax refuge beside a sunny bay filled with 100+ foot long boats and on which passing is virtually impossible.
In the 21st Century a new landscape is emerging. The growth of vintage race car usage and the evolution of street cars suitable for track use are making possible the development of interesting private club road circuits. Spurred by the success of club venues, declining enrollment in driving schools, and independent track days, established road circuits are offering club memberships. They also offer the added cachet of history.
This plethora of options has given rise to a new phenomenon: club shopping. Drivers now have options that allow them to optimize their track experience by matching their abilities and their car capabilities with a track configuration that best suits them.
We have come a long way from WWII runways and hay bales. And then again… there is always Sebring.
Have a great Fourth!
Welcome to June! The month named after the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, who gives the Northern Hemisphere its last gasp of spring and first taste of uninterrupted warmth. This is the month of 24 Hours of Le Mans. Depending on which you favor, our multi-disciplined sport has several “Greatest Race of the Year” designations: Indy, Monaco, Daytona 500, and 24 Hours of ..., all qualify to someone. We believe that from a historical viewpoint alone, Le Mans is the best. Check our MMR calendar below and reserve a spot on your couch. This year promises an interesting battle between Porsche, Audi, and Toyota.
Our lead image this week comes from a class winning Lancia Aurelia at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance last weekend in Greenwich, CT. It was shot by editor Dom Miliano as were the bulk of the images in this issue. You can view more images by clicking here.
A reminder that Father’s Day is not far away and we will be making not-so-subtle suggestions to be passed on to the appropriate members in your family.
F1 in Montreal
An exciting and excited city will have another wonderful party to support a race at a boring track. Another, “track of convenience”, the service roads of Île Notre-Dame are again pressed into service for Bernie’s Boys. Unlike the truly challenging sections on other public roadways turned temporary racetrack such as Eau Rouge and the Mulsanne Kink, Montreal features the Wall of Champions. Yes, a concrete barrier parked perilously close to an exit on the last corner before the start finish line, and where a number of drivers have crashed, is its main feature. Brilliant!
The truly exciting “feature” of the Canadian GP is Montreal itself. The women are beautiful, the old city is historic and charming, the restaurants are wonderful, and the city goes nuts for F1.
Tips: Access to the track is via an excellent Metro system. Though organizers graciously sell “open” tickets, there are no “open” viewing areas and assigned seating at the track is a must. “Open” tickets are only good for access to the vendor area and for “hearing” race cars go by. Consider buying tickets for Friday’s practice and Saturday’s qualifying. On Friday you can move from grandstand to grandstand as they are hardly full. Qualifying is different, as it is well attended.
What do Detroit and Boston Have in Common?
At the moment, not much. But in 2016 they will both offer an IndyCar race in parts of their city which are little cared for at any other time. Belle Isle is a lovely green island park straddling the cities of Detroit, MI and Windsor, ON in the middle of the Detroit River. The track is a combination of concrete slabs and asphalt on what are essentially the service roads of a public park. Last year’s race, in the dry, showed the track to be a bumpy mess and the race became the poster child, along with Baltimore, of where not to run a race.
This year, the two races in two days, was far better. Despite the rain, which shortened the Saturday race and precipitated crashes in the Sunday event, the racing was very good and neither the Penske nor Ganassi teams exerted their usual dominance. In point of fact, Roger Penske, who is the guiding light of this event had a horrible Sunday when two of his cars, with help, collided, and Indy winner JP Montoya ran out of gas on the last lap. Andretti Motorsports had a good weekend, finishing 1-2 on Saturday and 5th on Sunday. This was also a good weekend for Graham Rahal, who crashed on Saturday and finished third on Sunday. And also for Honda who finished 1-2 in the first race and 2 thru 9 on Sunday. Carlos Munoz won the rain shortened Saturday event and Sebastien Bordais won the Sunday race.
Pardon Our Lack of Enthusiasm
Boston, despite its global image of an old ship, Harvard Yard, and uptight Yankees, possesses a varied and active motorsports community. The advent of very successful Boston Cup and the continued efforts of the very active lawn show season at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum have proven that it can support a major motorsport event, and it would appear that its time has come.
In many ways, New England motorsports fans are blessed. We have the aforementioned Boston Cup on Boston Common, NH has the NHMS oval and road course in Louden and now has a NHRA sanctioned track, CT has Lime Rock Park and all its rich history of major races, and the CT/MA borders share Thompson Speedway with its 75-year-old oval and its newly reconstituted road course. Tamworth NH is home to what will shortly be a beautiful mountain track called Club Motorsport, and Palmer MA has recently opened a track that has been very highly rated.
So let’s talk about the Seaport District of South Boston. Across the Boston main Channel from Logan Airport, it is an inhospitable piece of flat land that the city and private developers have been trying to promote as a modern living space (on the water and close to downtown) for a number of years. In an effort to bring activity to the area, it is now the home to the Boston Convention Center, the Institute for Contemporary Art and a number of high rise hotels and restaurants. Now it has an IndyCar race.
Our feelings about street races are known and, were there no options, we might even be mildly supportive of this effort. But so far the hype has all been about how much money this will garner and how many hotel rooms will be sold. Strictly from a racing point of view, which is what enthusiasts tend to want, not much is being offered. If the history of street racing in North America is a guide, our expectations are very low.
Michael Furman – Photographer
Our Classic Classifieds Feature Lamborghinis
The Markets continue to rise and while current owners of every older car are presently looking satisfied with themselves for owning an investment of seemingly unstinted growth; some are growing faster than others. For Lamborghini, this is boom time. The new Huracan is a huge success and has a long waiting list. Older, previously less appreciated models are also growing but not as quickly as Ferraris. Is this an opportunity. Perhaps. Check out this week’s offerings. With Audi backing and engineering behind it, Lamborghini looks to have a bright future that will reflect well on its past models. These are worthy of consideration while they are relatively affordable.
This Week’s Video is a Message from the Henry Ford Museum
One car and one race changed Indy car racing in America forever. The car was a rear engine Lotus 38, the motor was by Ford and the race was the 1965 Indy 500 won by Jim Clark. But the death knell for front engine roadsters was sounded four years earlier when Jack Brabham introduced his rear engine F1 Cooper with a modified F1 engine to the Indy 500. By the time Clark won, there were only six roadsters that qualified for the race. But Clark’s win was huge for European chassis manufacturers and for Ford who had backed the project. Watch this video and learn which other driver, an American, was instrumental in making it happen:
Vintage Racing at Thompson: June 18 thru 21
Three days of VRG and VSCCA racing at Thompson Speedway, 45 minutes from Boston. Drop us a line if you have an interest in going. If enough of you want to go on Saturday, we will speak to the track about parking together. Check them out online at thompsonspeedway.com
Next week is our Father’s Day Gift Guide Edition. Have a great weekend.
Monaco – Indy – Villa d’Este Results
The Memorial Day weekend races dominated the TV screens of America but for New England enthusiasts a pair of happy events meant more. Internationally, at Italy's Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance, Essex Ma. based Paul Russell & Co presented a 212 Vignale Coupe and won the Trofeo BMW Group Classic award. The award is the jury’s choice for the most sensitive restoration. The 1952 212 Europa, Vignale Berlinetta is owned by Bradley Calkins of the USA. The car is stunning. Congratulations to all involved. The remainder of our eye candy also came from Villa d’Este. Thank you BMW for sponsoring this superb event. On the racing front, New Englanders were absorbing the news, announced on Thursday past, that Boston will host the final race of the 2016 IndyCar season. We have mixed feelings. Read on McDuff and tell us what you think.
F1 Monaco: Rosberg wins – Mad Max Steals Hearts!
When enthusiasts tire of the beautiful setting, the beautiful boats, and the beautiful people, there will no longer be a race in Monaco. Long recognized as the most exclusive tax haven in the world (rumor has it that citizenship applications require proven assets in excess of seven uninterrupted digits), its days of hosting a truly competitive F1 race are in its distant past. Its crowning achievement is its downfall. This is the only F1 track in the world where excellence is demanded because there is literally no room for error. Yet the entertainment of racing consists of high speeds and errors, forced and unforced, which allow pressing and passing and in a word, entertainment. Hamilton proved the rule; he qualified best and would have won but for an error by his pit which caused him to lose. Sad for him but good for racing. On purpose-built race courses such as Laguna Seca or Silverstone, or the long course at Nurburgring, or road courses such as Spa or Le Mans, where houses and harbors do not inhibit passing, Hamilton may have had to defend, take chances, make errors and oblige his fellow competitors to do the same. Not so at Monaco. He had the fastest car, and all he needed do was be in front and not make errors.
But even a parade needn’t always be a bore. A comparison could be made to the historic 1981 Spanish GP at the narrow and twisty Jarama circuit. Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve (See Villeneuve’s 5 greatest races) qualified seventh in the Ferrari 126CXK, a powerful car with atrocious handling. He dubbed it a “big red Cadillac”. He was third by the first corner. Villeneuve passed the second place car on the opening lap and later, when race leader John Watson made a mistake, he passed him to take the lead. For the remainder of the race, without blocking or weaving, he held off competitors by placing the car in situations that discouraged his competitors from passing. It was brilliant driving. The first five cars crossed the line within 1.24 seconds.
Sunday’s race, which for television purposes focused primarily on the leaders, was simply another high speed parade. Two exceptions that kept it from being a complete bore were, one, the pass for the lead that took place while Hamilton was in the pits. As a result he came out of the pits with eight laps to go, superior tires, and a superior car to Vettel’s Ferrari but couldn’t pass him. Makes you wonder what Villeneuve might have done. And, two, Max Verstappen. His pass on Maldonado on lap 6 was brilliant, and gutsy. It reminded us of Villeneuve. Later on he crashed while trying to pass the other Lotus driver, Romain Grosjean. Verstappen said Grosjean eased off 10-15 meters early. The telemetry didn’t support that. Grosjean actually braked later. But young Max was caught short of room when he decided to pass on the right while sitting too far to the left of the Lotus. Prior to that, after in the process of allowing Vettel to lap him, Max tucked in behind the Ferrari and taking advantage of the blue flags that waved other drivers aside for the faster Vettel, he thus slipped past Sainz and Bottas. But it was a short lived tactic once word got back to the pits. Clever though. My guess is that the Montreal fans will love this “special” kid (Mad Max?) when he arrives at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian GP in two weeks. As for Hamilton, it had to be a huge disappointment. And there were probably several ways to handle it. He was perfunctorily correct. His teammate rival was also in an awkward, though happier, situation and acknowledged same. But grace under pressure continues to elude Hamilton.
IndyCar Indianapolis 500: Penske – Ganassi Driver Wins!
The major difference between Monaco and Indy is striking. At Monaco, the leader into the first turn generally wins the race. At Indy, the car leading the last lap generally loses. On this Sunday, both proved untrue.
Fifteen years ago, 24-year-old Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 for Chip Ganassi’s Target Team. On Sunday, 15 years later, he won it again. This time for Ganassi’s arch rival, Roger Penske’s Verizon Team. In the meantime he has spent time with McLaren in F1 and struggled for seven years in NASCAR. When Ganassi cut him loose from the NASCAR team last year, it would have been easy to believe that at 38 years of age, he was done. And JPM, whose reputation could be considered mercurial at best, found little sympathy. But Roger Penske, against whom he has competed in both the old Champ Car days and currently in NASCAR, called him and offered an opportunity, not in NASCAR, but in IndyCar. He jumped at the opportunity to come back. It was a mellowed and thankful JPM, surrounded by family, who accepted tributes in the winner’s circle. A pleasant change from the combative and often surly demeanor he has presented over the years. The new Juan Pablo has been a strong addition to the Penske Team and this win for Montoya was validation of his worth. Possibly even in his own eyes.
An aside: The race was between these two major Chevy teams, and for the third IndyCar race in a row, the first single car team was the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda powered team with driver Graham Rahal who finished fifth, is fifth in the points standings, and the leading American driver.
The final five laps were frantic as Will Power, Montoya, and Scott Dixon swapped the lead 15 times in five laps. It was ballsy racing and damned dangerous too. But they trusted each other and each knew when to give up a little space and so it all worked out. This is what racing is all about.
Michael Furman – Photographer
Our featured Classified Cars
Spring time and the open road beckons. What better way is there to enjoy this most-special of seasons than in a new-to-you classic car. Maybe even a convertible. Check out our picks in the MMR Classifieds.
F1 - China Ho Hum
Shanghai, China: Following an exciting Malaysian GP, hopes were high that China would produce another close race between two teams. It didn’t and it did. The first six spots returned to form and Mercedes, chagrined by their loss in Race #2, emphatically and depressingly controlled every facet of Race #3.
Meanwhile back in the remainder of the field, the once mighty Red Bulls were beaten by lowly Lotus and Sauber and McLaren, the perennial challenger with the second most successful GP record of all modern day teams finished one lap down and trounced only Marussia. Sad.
For the top four cars, Mercedes and Ferrari, this was a race determined by tire degradation. For those watching on TV, color commentators, with the aid of intercepted team-driver communications, interpreted what passed as drama. Pity the poor people in the stands who, without access to even that sad explanation, paid serious money and watched a 90 minute parade interspersed with lightning fast pit stops.
Press: Autoweek.com reports that after the event, China GP organizers lamented the steadily declining quality of the F1 show. Their accompanying image showed stands filled with empty seats. Fascinating.
IndyCar - Nola Contendere
New Orleans, LA: It is really quite amazing how, blessed with a field of competitive cars and many talented drivers, the crucial ingredient for good racing (and quite the opposite of F1), IndyCar still manages to produce a mediocre product. Sunday’s event on the outskirts of New Orleans was halted after 47 laps because TV time ran out. James Hinchcliffe stayed out when everyone else pitted on lap 33, and the race was called before he ran out of fuel.
Press: Racer.com ran an excellent commentary by print and oft times TV pit lane reporter Robin Miller. In it he decried the suitability of the track, the size of the crowd (8,000 maybe), and the IndyCar organization. In a piece entitled IndyCar Fans Deserve Better, he complained about the shame of running races on such courses when real race courses like Watkins Glen, Mosport, CoTA, Road Atlanta, and Road America go begging. Not to mention Mt.Tremblant and Lime Rock Park.
WEC Silverstone 6 hours: Audi Again
Silverstone, UK: First race of the season and primer for Le Mans in June, last year’s LMP1 World Endurance Championship (WEC) winning Audi finished first and fifth. Porsche was 4.6 seconds behind in second and Toyota Racing was another 10 seconds back in third and one lap down in fourth. Ligier/Nissan cars were sixth and seventh overall and first in LMP2. In GTE Pro, Ferrari beat Porsche and Aston Martin. In GTE Am, Aston Martin beat Ferrari and Porsche. This was the first race of the year, next comes SPA, on the same weekend as the Tudor IMSA race at CoTA. This is great racing and hopefully some broadcaster will pick it up for TV. We will, of course, see the Le Mans race.
Michael Furman - Photographer
This week’s selected cars from MMR Classifieds are several interesting Porsches.
The eye candy this week is from the recent Amelia Island Concours event. We thank friend and MMR supporter Bengt Persson for his wonderful images. Circumstances dictated that Bengt was actually unable to attend the Concours but was fortunate enough to be there on Saturday and his work proves that people and surroundings contribute much to making images of even the most beautiful cars just a little more interesting.
Sandy’s Dino Image
Also at Amelia, Sandy Cotterman took a picture of a winning Ferrari Dino that had recently been prepared by Paul Russell and Co. of nearby Essex, MA. Unbeknownst to us at the time, this car is also the cover image for a forthcoming book by Michael Keyser about his close friend Jonathan Williams.
Michael brought Jonathan to us and you can read his Le Mans 1970 story here. The book will be available late summer.
F1 is in Bahrain this weekend.
Have a great one. And don’t forget to subscribe a friend who will thank you forever! And so will we.