MMR Community Newsletter

July 25, 2014 Comments (2)

In our continuing series of images from prior Monterey Weeks, this issue’s eye candy is from the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in 2013.

My Word

The subject of Denise McCluggage’s column this week, as we move into the second F1 race in two weeks, seems particularly apt.

The Weeky Leek!

Regular readers of our MMR Newsletter recognize how hard we work to keep up a semblance of journalistic integrity. Last week’s report by Rocky Beech (net worth $370) about the proposed 2017 Vatican GP was wildly inaccurate. We have released him from our employ. To set the record straight, no one at the Papal Racing Dept. of the Vatican has denied that the Vat GP is on, but the Vatican has flatly denied that Bernie Ecclestone has been canonized. The two conditions for sainthood, they say, are having performed miracles and being dead. They confess (it’s something they do regularly) that in Mr. Ecclestone’s case there is some doubt about whether either condition has been met.

Book Review: Hard Luck Lloyd

In the Sixties, Lloyd Ruby was one of those drivers that was everywhere. One week at Indy the next driving a Lotus 19 at Mosport. John Lingle has written an excellent biography of this fast and quiet driver and Sabu Advani of Speedreaders.info reviews it for us.

Michael Furman Image

Michael Furman photography

In keeping with our racing theme, Michael Furman’s image of the 1936 Bugatti Type 57G is from the book by Dr. Fred Simeone for which he supplied the images, The Spirit of Competition. The car is a treasure and so is the book. The car is posed against factory preparation notes for the June 20th, 1937 Le Mans race, which it won. The original notes appear to have been made on June 9th, and penciled in beside the line describing the pistons, are the words “too weak” in brackets. (Fr. trop faible)

F1 Racing

Fans of F1 and IndyCar racing had a full day on Sunday as the early morning F1 German GP at Hockenheim was followed by a mid morning IndyCar race in Toronto, postponed by rain from Saturday, and a second mid afternoon race. It was all good racing.

In F1, generally when one team dominates, boring racing follows. Not so this year. The rivalry, antipathy, and animosity between the fair haired multi-national/multi-lingual German Rosberg and the talented but emotionally mercurial “pride of the English streets”, Hamilton, has made each race a compelling opera. The cars are equal and on any given day, the drivers are very close to equal. The Team however has a goal to win the Manufacturers title first and the driver’s championship second and plans its race with those priorities in mind. To maximize their opportunity, they have each driver on a different tire strategy. Ideally, in the dying laps of the race, one car will be ahead on worn tires and being caught up by the other on fresh tires. Who gets which strategy is their determination. Though only at the half-way point, these decisions will come into question more and more as the season winds to a close.

Meanwhile, the race for second place was dramatic and exciting. Qualifying failures and penalties relegated Hamilton to 20th position at the start and always bearing in mind that he and Rosberg had the use of the best cars on the track, his passing skills were none-the-less remarkable. Continuing to impress however was the actual second place finisher, Valteri Bottas, in his Mercedes powered Williams. The car is good, but so is this kid. Williams is good, but it will need to up its game to the top step of the podium if they expect to keep him. Alonso’s attempts at passing Ricciardo’s Red Bull were a fine display of the mixture of aggression and remarkable reflexes that are a requirement of all drivers wishing to compete at the sharp end of this grid. Both appeared to enjoy their tussle and the fans were served a rare F1 treat. Passing.

IndyCar Racing

As mentioned, the rain-delayed Saturday IndyCar race from Toronto was shortened to 65 laps and run on Sunday morning. The concrete barriers, along downtown city streets, defined the track. It was like all the others, bumpy, unimaginative and prone to inducing crashes. But, the field was good and the racing spirited. In the first race, four time Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais won his first race in six years and so another small team was taken to the winner’s circle. The second race was won by Mike Conway who benefitted from a smart call to change from wet to dry tires and caught a lucky break when a full course yellow prevented his competitors from getting into the pits to do likewise until it was too late. Smarts and luck are a nice combination and you definitely need both to win championships. While F1 is going into its second half, the IndyCar season has but four remaining races, two on road courses and two on ovals. The finale being at the dreaded Fontana oval.

Attendance Falls

A note about attendance. It was noted at the German GP at Hockenheim that despite the fact that Mercedes is leading the Manufacturer’s Championship and a German driver is in the lead for the Driver’s Championship, it did not sell out. According to European pre-race reports only one-half of the 95K available were sold and it was politely suggested that the ticket prices at $700 for good seats and $225 for the cheapest were the cause.

On this side of the Atlantic, the IndyCar series has woeful numbers for both on-site and TV viewership. IndyCar may need to look partially at its history to see its future. At one point CART was poised to rival F1. With the series splitting into two competing series from 1996 to 2008, the quality of the racing was compromised and the fan base just went away. IndyCar are back now with a very competitive field and an overall superior product, but they have some tweaking to do to get the fans back. Do you follow IndyCar? Share your thoughts.

Final Broadcasting Thoughts

David Hobbs spoke to a packed crowd at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookilne MA last Saturday. He is very entertaining and had nothing but positive things to say about NBC’s support of F1.

Bob Varsha announced on Sunday that this was his final broadcast of IndyCars. Whither goest Varsha? Does anybody know and will you share?

Hungarian GP this weekend. Enjoy!

Peter Bourassa

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Comments (2)

  1. Jim Wright:
    Jul 27, 2014 at 04:51 PM

    Dear Peter,
    Thanks for publishing the newsletter!
    I haven't followed Indy Car much since the split, although I stuck with CART for a while. I'm afraid Indy Car racing is cooked. They run big ovals, small ovals, road and street courses. I can't say enough "bad" about street courses - they are terrible for spectators, bad for TV, and all it takes is for one car to carom at the wrong time and the field is cut substantially. Generally, oval folks don't like road courses and vice versa.
    They lost too much marketing momentum to NASCAR while they fought. [Did you see how poorly NASCAR attendance was at Indy this weekend?]. They struggled with TV for years - we like dependable TV - same network, same announcers, same general schedule.
    I recognize that the sanctioning body made the car design changes in the name of driver safety, however, the cars are the ugliest in racing, bar none. They are still unable to attract American drivers. The F1 audience is comfortable with multiple nationalities driving and building the cars, but the American audience doesn't seem to bond with any of the current drivers very well. Many of us are getting pretty old, but we remember when a foreign driver, like Clark or Hill was very rare.
    Thanks for reading.
    Best wishes,
    Jim Wright

  2. Peter Bourassa:
    Jul 31, 2014 at 08:00 PM

    Thanks for the insightful comments. I fear what you say may be correct but I continue to be hopeful that you are wrong. Unfortunately we can't turn back the clock and my fear is that maybe it really wasn't as good then as i remember it now. Maybe racing has always had issues and we have simply forgotten. Certainly when you listen to the stories that Brian Redman and Alain de Cadenet tell, though funny as hell now, they were more hell than funny then.


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