MMR Blog

Final Touches to Recent Stories

Posted on June 17, 2013 Comments (0)

Three weeks ago in a story we wrote about The WASRED 308 lighting system, we mentioned 1978 Lotus driver Ronnie Peterson’s ability to drive any car quickly, no matter the set-up. We also mentioned that he wasn’t perceptibly slower than Mario Andretti who was an acknowledged set-up master.

Lotus

In the June issue of Motor Sport, Editor-in-Chief Nigel Roebuck, addresses the subject of team orders and the incident at the Malaysian GP when Vettel passed teammate Webber in the closing laps to take the win. In 1978 Lotus stated to Peterson when he was hired that they wanted Andretti to win because he had done so much to develop the car. His job was to help that happen. Andretti built up a huge lead in the first half of the season with the Lotus 79, and, by mid-season when Peterson announced that he would be leaving for McLaren the following year, the impression was that Peterson had been hanging back. One driver suggested that since he was leaving anyway, he should race for himself for the remainder of the season. When approached about this Peterson said, “Listen, I had open eyes when I signed that contract—and I also gave my word. If I break it now, who will ever trust me again?” Red Bull do not have such agreements, but they do have team orders. I don’t think Peterson’s view was an anomaly.

Last week in the It All Began in Parma story I mentioned stopping at the Piero Taruffi Museo in Bagnoregio. This week, in conversation with Denise McCluggage, I mentioned Taruffi and asked her if she had ever met him. Indeed, she said, he instructed her and her co-driver Allen Eager at the Nurburgring when they were entered in the 1000K race. He was a wonderful teacher, she said, fast and incredibly smooth. Connecting the dots, I now assume this is the reason he wrote the book and why people bought it. Little touches.

In my summary of the weekend races that included the very successful Indy 500, I pointed out the lack of mention by organizers and the press about recently ousted IndyCar chief Randy Bernard’s contribution to the current success the series is enjoying . In 2010 Bernard led a successful effort to reunite and resurrect the IndyCar program, one portion of which was controlled by the Hulman family that own and control the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Another story which caught my eye ran parallel to the race report in a Boston newspaper. On race day morning, some ticketed patrons were delayed at entrances because their coolers were larger than permitted in the past. Management, reacting to the Boston Marathon bombing, and aware that the Indy 500 could also be threatened, decided to limit the size of the coolers entering the grandstands. It is unclear how much notice was given but patrons were told at the ticket entrance to take the coolers back to their parked cars. For that same reason, they also closed an access road to the facility. Some people never saw the beginning of the race and some people, stuck in traffic, simply turned around and went home. It’s all about management, isn’t it?


Nigel Snowden – Pacem

Posted on June 14, 2013 Comments (1)

Steve McQueen

Our lead image is probably the most recognized image of a racing driver in the world. It is the picture of Porsche driver Michael Delaney indicating to his Ferrari nemesis that, like the longbow man on the winning side centuries ago, his two fingers remain intact. Odd that this image, known universally as the two finger salute so representative of racing, is of a fictional race driver in a fictional race.

The image is, of course, of Steve McQueen, talented actor and driver, and the movie is Le Mans. We share the image today because the man who took it, Nigel Snowden, recently died.

As often happens, the real story behind the fiction is more interesting than what was created.

Nigel Snowden was a successful F1 photographer in the early sixties through the eighties and supplied images for top motorsports books and magazines of the time. This image, was not only his shot, it was his idea.

Steve McQueen’s film production company, Solar Productions, raced in a Porsche 908, equipped with cameras front and rear, in the 1970 Le Mans race to gather footage for their upcoming film. The car was driven by Herbert Linge and Jonathan Williams. (Jonathan’s shorts stories of the day are here in MMR Short Stories.) Driving and working the cameras whenever good opportunities presented themselves, they finished eighth overall. Since Snowden was part of the race day pit action which Solar wanted to replicate, they offered to pay him to do the same thing for their movie. He was delighted. At the end of the movie when Michael Delaney wanted to offer the single digit salute, it was Nigel Snowden who suggested that this might be viewed as vulgar by Europeans and suggested the alternative.

Juan Fangio visits

Nigel Snowden at work

Camera Crew

Steve McQueen and friend say hello

Movie star cars at rest

You can see the images which Snowden shot on that film in Michael Keyser’s excellent book, Behind LeMans, the Film in Photographs.

Nigel Snowden


Sandy on Assignment: Heading Off to Judging School

Posted on June 11, 2013 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Finally, an official assignment! I’m about to hop a flight to Boston when the email comes through. Peter has asked me to write about the JCNA (Jaguar Clubs of North America) judges’ certification course I am off to take. Jeez, I’m thinking, why on earth would anyone want to read about that?

Under the bonnet at Boca.

Under the bonnet at Boca.

It seems like only yesterday I was happily tootling off to my very first JCNA-sanctioned concours, in scenic Sturbridge, Massachusetts. As the cliché reads, that was the first day of the rest of my life ... my motorsporting life, that is. Totally clueless as to what to expect, I had my car professionally detailed the day before so it would sparkle. I figured that would do it. Ha! When I drove into the mega parking lot adjacent to the event, a plethora of Jaguars were there, and their owners were on high alert, spritzing and polishing. The early morning trek out of Boston had kicked up a lot of dirt, leaving my $250 detail job worthless. There I was, without so much as a paper towel or a drop of Windex. Everyone else had Q-tips and tongue depressors for cleaning wheel crevices, plus a trunk full of detailer sprays, waxing compounds, and special-looking yellow towels to wipe it all off. I was sunk!

I must have looked dumbfounded … actually paralyzed. Since the car stuck out like a sore thumb, in that red I’ve already written about, I couldn’t be missed. To my amusement, men started coming up asking if I needed help. I know what you’re thinking! But seriously, they directed me to the secret car wash area behind the hotel and then generously offered coveted cleaning supplies and those lint-free yellow towels.

After much primping and polishing, the XKR makes its debut.

After much primping and polishing, the XKR makes its debut.

Suffice to say I went home with an award, third place in my class. I was happy enough. What I didn’t realize, my Type A personality, suppressed the last couple of years, was about to kick in. Over the ensuing 12 months I diligently went through my car’s score sheet, paying whatever it took to make everything wrong, right. Fast forward to the next year’s concours award ceremony—third place again! What’s up with this, I thought? Well, not only was I correcting, but so was everyone else! That’s when it struck me: a concours hits your core, taking pride in one’s car to make it as perfect as one is able… factory perfect, as they say.

I’m sure it was obvious to the members of my Jaguar Club (JANE) that this gal was genuinely becoming interested in cars. Peter Bourassa had just penned The Making of a Car Lady, my personal 365-day plan of motorsports adventures, and I was already in auto-overload implementing it. Aldo Cipriano, JANE’s Chief Judge at the time, was starting to drop subtle hints about my becoming a lady judge. The next spring I flew up to Richmond, Virginia, to attend the JCNA Annual General Meeting. While attending the session on judging E-Types I had an epiphany… I love this stuff!

Conferring at Concorso Italiano. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

Conferring at Concorso Italiano. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

Judge Sir Sterling Moss at Pebble.

Judge Sir Sterling Moss at Pebble.

Now three years into judging, I’m obsessed with learning and humbled by the cadre of fellow concours judges I am privileged to judge alongside. Concours judges bring to the field years of classic car experience, whether through a background in restoration, specific marque certification, as a collector, or as a classic car broker. Others are motorsports historians, museum curators, and even racing legends. Still a neophyte in the motorsports world, I am fortunate to be coming up the ranks with mentoring and experience in both French style and JCNA-based judging. It is safe to say, while French judging a concours, a Jaguar entrant will boast to me how relieved they are not to be judged by JCNA standards. I just smile.

Serious business. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

Serious business. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

So when Peter said write about “Miss Sandy goes to Jag School,” I started to reflect over the big picture of concours judging. I’m realizing that no matter which type of judging style, entrants have the responsibility to be advocates for their cars.

Judging the Maharaja Rolls Royce. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

Judging the Maharaja Rolls Royce. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

The proof is in the pudding!

The proof is in the pudding!

Restored to high standards and making its show debut, the 1936 Lancia Astura at Pebble Beach in 2012. Photo by Ruben Verdes

Restored to high standards and making its show debut, the 1936 Lancia Astura at Pebble Beach in 2012. Photo by Ruben Verdes

What does that mean exactly? I doubt anyone would head off to a job interview without a resume or looking halfway decent. The same goes for your car! At Jag School, we learn that each car has only 15 minutes to shine. Without laying a finger on the car, judges work in teams, scouring every inch, looking for a composite score or ranking based on major areas—interior, exterior, operation verification (do lights, horns, and signals work)—not to mention, does the car start, and engine compartment for certain divisions of judging. Judging goes beyond “fit and finish” to include authenticity of the model or correctness for the period. If in doubt, it’s the owner’s responsibility to show documentation as to a point in question.

In French judging we are also looking at provenance—what historically makes this car special. I was on a judging team looking at a car whose rallying history set it apart, compensating for its rather rough-around-the-edges appearance. Prototypes, limited survivors, celebrity-owned, phenomenal race history, anything significant boosts a car’s uniqueness and award potential. A car entered in a Concours d’Elegance or local car show means to me that the owner has done whatever he or she can to make their car look its best. Entering just to win an award may not do the car justice, especially if it’s still midway through cleanup or restoration.

Speaking of restoration, Tom duPont’s statement I referred to in my last assignment about vetting a car before purchasing, includes restoration work. Not all restorers are the same. It’s no fun as a judge having to lower a car’s award placement due to a poor, yet pricey restoration. Spending money doesn’t necessarily guarantee a winner. Detailing a car, or at least washing it, goes a long way on the judging field!

This year’s Jag School, presented by our Chief Judge Jim Sambold for the Jaguar Association of New England, was outstanding. Accompanying Jim’s powerpoint on the fine details of judging was a video featuring Gary Hagopian going over every inch of an XK140 for judging specifications.

About to become, the Best of Show, the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo. Photo by Ruben Verdes

About to become, the Best of Show, the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo. Photo by Ruben Verdes

Stunning, the SS100 accepts its award at Amelia.

Stunning, the SS100 accepts its award at Amelia.

Will the winner please drive forward.

Will the winner please drive forward.

Who would have guessed 60, or even 80, years ago that judges would be pouring over what we now call classic cars to give them awards and trophies. I’m sure early manufacturers were just happy all the parts fit together!


A Wolf’s Tale

Posted on June 6, 2013 Comments (0)

Annett Wolf is a remarkable lady with a remarkable story. In her youth she dined with Fangio in Portugal, Von Trips kissed her hand at Le Mans and she became a lifelong devotee of motor racing. While enjoying a successful career in the arts, Ms. Wolf is primarily a communicator and an international award winning director of film and television.

Annett Wolf

Today, from her home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she operates her production company Wise Wolf Productions and a foundation that raises awareness of the perils faced by the wildlife of the Canadian Arctic. Now, the lady wishes to combine her passion for motor sports in a feature film to be entitled So It Was. Read more about her and her unique project.

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