Sandy On Assignment: The Bucket List

January 15, 2015 Comments (10)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

Sandy on Assignment

Yes, a glamour shot, but the suit (not the shoes) gets me into the hot pits!

No matter what your age, I bet you have a list of things you want to do ... someday. Since setting myself loose in this amazing world of motorsports, I realize my someday is now. A bit late to the motorsports party, I have come to peace with the fact that I am neither going to become a race car driver, nor am I going to trip upon a million dollar barn find. So instead, I have been knocking out my very own bucket list ... to get as close to everything motorsports as I possibly can.

Looking at my list got me thinking. Does every car guy have a bucket list? What’s on it? What are their plans? I started asking around and this is what I discovered. Generally speaking, there is no limit to what a car guy wants to do with cars, events they want to attend, and cars they lust over owning or re-owning. What did surprise me was the final hesitation ... someday.

My hope in sharing my adventures under Sandy on Assignment is to get you excited about building and actually tackling your own motorsports bucket list.

You are never too young to appreciate motorsports

It is never too soon to introduce children to motorsports.

I appreciate that this sport or hobby, depending upon your level of participation, requires resources. Although some are financial, many just need some time and planning. This may not be the year to hit Pebble Beach, but it may be the time to take your children or grandchildren to the races or a local car show. It may be the year to hop in your car and do a Club autocross or a road tour.

As for my motorsports adventures, here are my top ten recommendations. See where your dreams fit. Write them down.

Sandy’s Top Ten Favorites

1. Take a high performance sports driving course. My favorites are the 2-day Porsche Sports Driving School outside Birmingham, Alabama and Monticello Motor Club’s high performance courses, just 90 minutes north of New York City. Interestingly, most participants attend as a birthday present from their spouse! What I learned in both courses stays with me every second I am driving on the road.

Bruce Ledoux and Sandy Cotterman

Meeting driver Bruce Ledoux, founder of the  Guardian Angels of Motorsports, opened my eyes to the world of racing.

St. Petersburg Grand Prix

Smaller races, like the St. Pete Grand Prix let you get close to the cars and the drivers.

2. Go to the races. The Rolex 24 hours of Daytona was my first and got me hooked. Whether it’s local stock car racing or Formula 1, the electricity is always there. Splurge on a paddock pass. Meet the drivers. Le Mans can’t be beat. Formula 1 in Monaco is breathtaking. Vintage racing during the Lime Rock Historics and Monterey week at Laguna Seca are favorites. Watching the Elegance at Hershey hillclimb is a blast.

3. Get out and drive. Whether it’s a Club track day, family drive, or week-long rally, just get out and drive. Enjoy yourself in your car. After taking my performance courses, I realized you don’t need a Ferrari or a Porsche to get out and have fun!

Sandy Cotterman, judging a concours

Judging has gotten me closer to the pulse of a concours.

Sandy Cotterman and Norman Dewis, OBE

It is one thing to go to a concours like Villa d’Este, it’s another to meet a legend like Norman Dewis, OBE and the car that made history.

4. Attend a Concours d’Elegance or local car show. A concours can be a step back in history or a waltz down memory lane. It’s like a living history and a chance to meet the owners. The atmosphere is always fun, often lasting a weekend. You would be amazed at the classic cars entered in local car shows! There is nothing that beats the fun during the British Invasion in Stowe, Vermont. Sandy on Assignment has taken MMR readers from Pebble Beach to Amelia Island and across the pond to Villa d’Este and Hampton Court.

Max Girardo, RM Auctioneer and Managing Director

Max Girardo, RM’s auctioneer and Managing Director captivates his audiences.

5. Feel the excitement of an Auction. Whether you experience it live in person or on television, watching a car auction is a blast. I love to hear guys talk about prices as cars roll onto the auction block. What looks like their high school car or the car they almost bought, is now priced out of sight! You can get caught up in the bidding frenzy without even opening your wallet! Preview days are often free, and a great time to walk around and check out the cars. My favorite is RM with auctioneer Max Girardo. Also at the top of my list are Gooding, Bonham’s, and Artcurial auctions.

First Porsche sports car

The first sports car bearing the Porsche name. The 1948 Porsche Type 356, “No. 1” Roadster.

6. Check out your dream car. There is no harm in test driving your dream car. There is no harm in surfing the internet for your dream car. There is no harm in tracking down the car you once owned. Dream it and someday you may own it. I want a Porsche 911 in the worst way.

Goodwood is fun for everyone

The Goodwood Revival is magical and fun for everyone.

7. Head to the Goodwood Revival, Retromobile, or the Mille Miglia. These events are for everyone, from the vintage racing buff to the reluctant spouse. If looking through memorabilia at Retromobile gets boring, there is always shopping in Paris. There are enough trade-offs in Italy to spare a couple of hours watching the cars take off at the Mille Miglia. As for the Goodwood Revival, the entire family cannot help but have a fabulous time.

1902, the oldest Mercedes still in existence

The oldest Mercedes still in existence, the 1902 Mercedes-Simplex 40PS.

8. Tie an automotive museum into your vacation. Automobile museums are everywhere. Admission is often nominal. In the States, favorites on the west coast, besides Jay Leno’s Garage, include the Blackhawk Museum, Mullen and Nethercutt Collections, Peterson and LeMay Museums. Heading east, the Seal Cove Museum in Maine and Simeon and AACA Museums in Pennsylvania are fantastic. Heading to Europe? Take the train from Paris to Mulhouse for a treat — the Schlumph Collection in the Cité de l’Automobile National Museum. If you are flying into Milan, the Museo dell’Automobile in Torino and Museo Mille Miglia in Brescia are unique. Once in Stuttgart, Germany, the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museums were phenomenal. The crème de la crème was The Collier Collection in Naples, Florida.

Katies, on a Saturday Morning

With over 300 cars on a Saturday morning, at Katie’s, you can always find something to talk about.

9. Get to a Cars and Coffee. If it’s 7am, Saturday morning, you will find me sipping coffee with hundreds of car guys and gals, at the local cars and coffee. I love being around other like-minded motorsports enthusiasts. Classics to exotics, you’ll see everything and just talk cars. My favorites — Katie’s in Great Falls, Virginia and the duPont Registry in Clearwater, Florida.

Sandy's dream come true

My dream come true.

10. Don’t stop at 10 ... keep dreaming. On my bucket list for decades was to own a convertible, something sporty. I never let up on that dream and I’m glad I didn’t. Who would have guessed that dream would change my life.

Rallies enough to last a lifetime

There are enough rallies on my list to last a lifetime.

So what is still on my bucket list? My dreams span the gamut, from tinkering under the hood of an E-Type to navigating in the Peking to Paris Rally. And, of course, there’s the 911.

Donald Osborne at the Mille Miglia

It is just as much about the people as it is about the cars. Donald Osborne at the start of the Mille Miglia.

I hope I have sparked your interest. Get out and have fun with your own bucket list. Sandy on Assignment, under the MMR Blog, gives you a glimpse into many adventures, with specific suggestions on how to go about planning. When it comes to motorsports adventures, it’s all about the cars, the people, and having fun.

Please keep me posted on your bucket list ... and I promise to write about mine.


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Comments (10)

  1. Keith Carlson:
    Jan 16, 2015 at 06:46 AM

    ...and good for you and good for us that you did get out there and pursue this! Many of us can attest to the zeal and energy you've put into this pursuit, and all readers benefit from it. As one who has been lucky enough to attend most of these events, I've much enjoyed your company---when I can catch up with you!

  2. Harry T. Hall:
    Jan 16, 2015 at 07:19 AM

    Enjoyable read...checked a lot of boxes on my list, for sure.

  3. Jim Thykeson:
    Jan 16, 2015 at 08:01 AM

    Sandy, I too was hooked when I first attended Sebring way back in 57'. A friend had suggested that we give up a week-end of Brooksville drags (much to my disdain) for the sportscars at Sebring. After hearing the howling Ferrari 250 Testa Rossas it became the song of my life. The smells, the engine sounds, the sights, the atmosphere of being in the midst of it all is intoxicating! These experiences of the senses are what delivers the passion that drives us to crave more and ultimately a 'bucket-list' of what would be the best.

  4. Sandy Cotterman:
    Jan 16, 2015 at 11:27 AM


    You brought back thrilling memories of the Sebring 12.
    One year I spent most of the 12 hours with TRG in the very first pit.
    Kevin had offered me a set of headphones so I could listen
    in on all the conversations with the drivers. It was fascinating. I was riveted, watching the cars take off around the first curve. My favorite t-shirt reads, “It’s all about the racing.” Sandy

  5. Sandy Cotterman:
    Jan 16, 2015 at 11:29 AM


    Thank you! I'm sure you have wonderful memories. Keep adding to your list!


  6. Sandy Cotterman:
    Jan 16, 2015 at 11:32 AM


    Having friends like you to enjoy these events with is magical. See you at Retromobile!


  7. Steve Ross:
    Jan 16, 2015 at 01:13 PM

    Another well written and informative article that sandy has written about the quandry all us car lovers go thru from time to time. Am sure it brings back memorys for all of us.

  8. Sandy Cotterman:
    Jan 16, 2015 at 03:15 PM

    Thank you for your kind words. You reminded me of the September 22, 2012 article I wrote on Vic Elford and your Porsche Club weekend. Vic was the one who really sparked my interest in the Porsche High Performance Driving School. Thank you for helping me live my bucket list! Sandy

  9. richard oday :
    Jan 22, 2015 at 12:47 PM

    for the good stuff you need an in, & real deep pockets !

  10. Sandy Cotterman:
    Jan 22, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    Like any vacation or side-trip, getting there and lodging are the major costs. As for admissions, one would be greatly surprised at the cost to great motorsporting events. For example, a 2-day admission ticket to the Daytona 24 is between $40-60, Retromobile is 16 euros-almost nothing if this truly is on one's bucket list. For one of the top concours, Amelia Island, the admission fee is $80 and for St. Michael's Concours you can see a smaller cross-section of the same outstanding cars for $35. Tickets to almost all motorsports events can be ordered ahead of time, on-line, and either printed before hand or held at 'will call' to avoid long lines. Any lifestyle events during a fund-raising type event up costs, but they are just that, lifestyle with no added exposure to the cars. They're nice to know about, see other's photos, but not a must. As I mentioned in the article, it's all about planning and feeling comfortable approaching drivers or car owners to get closer to the hobby. Bottom line, if something is on one's bucket list, it's all a matter of making it happen, within one's means. Happy motoring, Sandy

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