MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 12, 2014 Comments (0)

We have turned the corner on summer and many of our favorite viewing activities are either in the final events in their series or already shutting down for the season.

IndyCar is done. NASCAR begins its 10 race Chase to choose a Champion. The Tudor United Sportscar Championship has two weekends remaining. The finale is a 10 hour Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta on October 4-5.


The Boston Cup

The Car Show season winds up in the Northeast with The Boston Cup event on the Boston Common on September 21st. See you there.


In this issue of The Weekly LeekStreaming the Finest in Pale Yellow Journalism, Professor Prosser has scooped the poop on the latest Papal pronouncement. In the best Rocky & Bullwinkle tradition: Don’t miss the next exciting episode of Lewis Whines a New Title! or Papal Palace Promotes Pals!


Sandy (on Assignment) Cotterman visited the Hershey Concourse and her images and story inform this week’s Newsletter.


Michael Furman’s dramatic image of the Porsche 911 GT1 captures the beauty of the beast.

Michael Furman’s dramatic image of the Porsche 911 GT1 captures the beauty of the beast.


F1

In short, the Tifosi (Ferrari fanatics) were disappointed, again. Mercedes dominated, again. The Nico/Lewis battle for hearts and minds continues and many hopes for the future are pinned on the return of Honda engines. As everyone knows by now, Hamilton won and Rosberg appeared to have given it to him. Conspiracy theories abound.

Mark Hughes of MotorSport magazine credits the win more to a difference in driving styles and car set-ups than to a huge driver error under pressure. The podium ceremony was very interesting (who was that animated interviewer?) as were the post race interviews. Hamilton still has a hill to climb and the next six races will be fun for viewers.

Monza in both its original configuration, which included a high banked oval, and its modern configurations of long straights and fast curves has always advantaged the most powerful cars and the bravest drivers. A list of the talented and experienced drivers who lost their lives at Monza says it all: Ascari, von Trips, Rindt, Peterson, and on motorcycles, Saarinen and Pasolini. All among the very best of their times.

At one point, a portion of the banked oval was part of the course. In its later days, it was quite bumpy; its depiction in the film Grand Prix was quite accurate.

Today’s course, even with the new formula’s dumbed down engines, it is still amazingly fast but its challenge to drivers has changed to a challenge for engineers. Where a strong motor and a brave driver were requisites in the sixties, downforce packages, engine mapping, brake systems, brake balance settings and tire management all come in to play now and the engineer’s role dominates the outcome. That is not to denigrate today’s cars or their drivers. Quite the contrary. The Italian GP was a brilliant example of how different teams, dealing with different technical strengths and weaknesses and driver preferences, managed a fast and complex 90 minute race. An analysis of each car’s technical package would go a long way to explain the driver’s finishing position. It is possible to believe that the Monza results, two Mercedes followed by two Williams and two Red Bulls would be the same if those six driver’s names were put into a hat to choose who would drive which car. Could you seriously question the fact that Vettel, who finished sixth would have finished first, had he been driving a Mercedes?

It has been rumored that Ron Dennis is making the rounds of top talent agents to see if he can convince them that their charges can win the Driver’s Championship in a McLaren-Honda next year or the year after. For those of you unfamiliar, only Mercedes and Ferrari enter their own chassis-engine combo. Most teams design, build and develop their own chassis and purchase engines from either Mercedes or Ferrari or Renault. Each component is equally important and to believe that any team (McLaren) will be stronger next year with the advent of a new Honda engine says that engines are their current problem. The reality is that Mercedes (454 Points) Williams (177 points) McLaren (110 points) and Force India (109 points) all have Mercedes engines. What they don’t have is a Mercedes chassis. On the other hand, Red Bull (272 points) is second in the series and has a Renault engine reputed to be 90 horsepower down on the Mercedes and its own Adrian Newey designed chassis. It shares a Renault engine with the Lotus (8 points) and Caterham (0 points). Red Bull, second in the points is well ahead of the Mercedes powered Williams. It has the second best chassis after the Mercedes team and Williams has the next best chassis after Red Bull. For any driver to jump from Mercedes or Red Bull, or even Williams, to any other F1 team with a currently uncompetitive chassis and an unproven engine would be asking him to make a huge leap of faith. McLaren is a great team with great resources but so is Ferrari and both have a long way to go.

If we were building for the future, Bottas and Magnussen would be an interesting base.

Have a great weekend. Please share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


Sandy on Assignment: The Elegance at Hershey

Posted on September 11, 2014 Comments (0)

…America’s Automotive Garden Party

by Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A birds-eye view of The Elegance at Hershey.

A birds-eye view of The Elegance at Hershey.

Imagine receiving a huge candy kiss as a trophy! It happens the second weekend in June in Hershey, Pennsylvania at The Elegance at Hershey. More than just a car show, The Elegance is an event wrapped around the motivation to bring the best of the best together; from the automotive arena, benefiting the determination to cure Juvenile Diabetes and also preserve our automotive heritage through the Antique Automobile Club of America Library and Research Center. Before this year’s event tally, The Elegance had raised over a half-million dollars to support these causes, in just four years.

This 1957 Maserati 300S received the Rolling Sculpture award.

This 1957 Maserati 300S received the Rolling Sculpture award.

The Hotel Hershey Award went to this 1947 Delahaye 135-M.

The Hotel Hershey Award went to this 1947 Delahaye 135-M.

Although an ocean apart, The Elegance is similar in many respects to what I would consider its European counterpart, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. An elegant, rather intimate automotive garden party, if you will, both events invite an exclusive small number of significant and historic cars. Many of the cars bring with them accolades and class wins from other esteemed show fields like Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. At The Elegance, each car stands on its own merits the day of the event, to be judged using French judging criteria by a cadre of twenty-eight esteemed judges under the leadership of Dr. Paul Sable.

Harry Yeaggy’s yellow 1935 Deusenberg Mormon Meteor received the coveted Governors Cup Award.

Harry Yeaggy’s yellow 1935 Deusenberg Mormon Meteor received the coveted Governors Cup Award.

Renound Italian Alfa collector, Corrado Lopresto, sent this 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato to The Elegance.

Renowned Italian Alfa collector, Corrado Lopresto, sent this 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato to The Elegance.

Like Villa d’Este, the setting is magnificent. Sixty-four automobiles were judged, with the Hershey Hotel and its elegant English gardens, beautiful porticos and fountain ponds, as their backdrop. This year’s winner of the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este, collector Corrado Lopresto, sent over from Milan, Italy the most desirable of the Alfa Romeo 1900s… the 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato. Made specifically for racing, only 39 were made and this one had been left in a garage for 40 years until purchased by Lopresto in 2013. Awarded the Worn but not Forgotten award at The Elegance, the car remains in it’s unrestored state.

Joe Parlanti at the Finish after a climb in his 1959 Abarth Zagato 750 Double Bubble.

Joe Parlanti at the Finish after a climb in his 1959 Abarth Zagato 750 Double Bubble.

The weekend at Hershey is very much steeped in motorsports tradition with The Grand Ascent, a revival of the historic Hershey hillclimb. In post World War II America, Pennsylvania was a hotbed for auto-racing and the concept of a hillclimb was the perfect event for the sports car enthusiast. One of the oldest forms of motorsports, with the first-known event taking place in France in 1897, the Hershey Hillclimb began in 1958 on the road to the rear of the Hershey Hotel. Held both Friday and Saturday during The Elegance weekend, I was mesmerized watching these vintage race cars traverse the heavily wooded hillside to set their individual times. At this year’s hillclimb, there were 36 registered entrants. Bring your camera and hiking shoes and walk the course, if it’s not too muddy! Daily admission is $10 with free parking. If you are up for one of those priceless experiences, for $50 you can get strapped in, helmet and all, as a passenger in one of the vintage race cars on the hillclimb!

From the Larry Porter Trust, a 1904 Model B in the forefront of the extensive “Alphabet Ford Collection”.

From the Larry Porter Trust, a 1904 Model B in the forefront of the extensive “Alphabet Ford Collection”.

This 1910 Model 10 was Buick’s competitor to Ford’s industry leading T.

This 1910 Model 10 was Buick’s competitor to Ford’s industry leading T.

After dodging the raindrops watching Friday’s hillclimb, an evening reception at the Antique Automobile Club of American Museum and its Library and Research Center was a wonderful opportunity to view another slice of Americana. I was particularly fascinated with the display of the “Alphabet Ford Collection”… and many exhibits of American automobilia. The AACC Museum is open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and highly recommended during The Elegance weekend.

The Foundation houses a significant reference library and historical collection of both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles.

The Foundation houses a significant reference library and historical collection of both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles.

A glimpse at the many Rolls-Royce parts waiting to be catalogued within the restoration facility.

A glimpse at the many Rolls-Royce parts waiting to be catalogued within the restoration facility.

Saturday morning, we were treated to a private tour of the Rolls Royce Foundation and home to the historic display of Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars by Rubin Verdes, an officer of the Foundation, and Board Member Bill Rothermel. The small museum in Mechanicsburg, PA and restoration facilities are open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 am until 4 pm. In the afternoon, we decided to take in a bit of Hershey history. Coined the Sweetest City on Earth, the Hershey museum offered an amazing glimpse into the history of Hershey, Pennsylvania and visionary Milton S. Hershey. Next stop before heading back to the afternoon hillclimb, were the Hershey Gardens… a must.

Saturday morning, a 5K, Elegance Challenge takes place up the road of the hill climb. In the evening the fund-raiser dinner and charity auction takes place inside the Hershey Hotel, with this year’s Honorary Chairman, Robert Lutz, as guest speaker. There are also several other dinner opportunities within the Hershey Hotel, and surrounding area.

The Elegance is a great opportunity to view unique cars, like this 1946 Glasspar G-2 Roadster, which according to the Smithsonian Institute, pioneered the use of fiberglass in automobile construction and paved the way for the kit car industry.

The Elegance is a great opportunity to view unique cars, like this 1946 Glasspar G-2 Roadster, which according to the Smithsonian Institute, pioneered the use of fiberglass in automobile construction and paved the way for the kit car industry.

The one-of-a-kind 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II took the People’s Choice Award.

The one-of-a-kind 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II took the People’s Choice Award.

The atmosphere generated mostly by volunteers, during the entire Elegance weekend, is very welcoming to the public, as well as the esteemed owners and their guests. Beginning at 7 am Sunday morning, the vehicles begin moving onto the show gardens and by 9 am the vision founder John (Jack) Rich, Sr. had for the event is created… a car show that brings back the days of the original Concours held in Europe. Unique to The Elegance this year was an informative walking tour personalized to just about every show car, prior to the award presentations, by Master of Ceremonies and automotive historian, Bill Rothermel.

In addition to the candy-kiss trophies every entrant receives, thirty-six awards were presented representing excellence for their time period, as well as spirited and historic awards. Among many worthy American cars, there was an equal display of Italian, British, and French beauties.

Since The Elegance weekend offers much for spectators to enjoy, spouses and families included, I would bump this event up towards the top of the motorsports enthusiasts’ bucket list. It’s another gem in the world of Concours events.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 5, 2014 Comments (0)

Alfas

Jonathan Williams

Labor Day weekend produced a most successful Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park and yet was tinged with sadness as a long time participant was killed in a fatal accident, and Jonathan Williams, gracious and talented MMR contributor passed away in Spain.

We pay tribute to Jonathan and reprise one of our favorite JW pieces.

We thank his long time friend Michael Keyser for his help and additional images. 


In this issue’s The Weekly Leek – The Finest in Pale Yellow Journalism, European Correspondent Oofy Prosser reveals that Unilever, recently announced sponsor of the Ben & Jerry USA F1 Team, will fit right in to the F1 scene.


Michael Furman’s Image is entitled La Lance by Francois Bazin and is from his recently released book, Bespoke Mascots with Nicholas Dawes.

Michael Furman’s Image this week is entitled La Lance by Francois Bazin and is from his recently released book, Bespoke Mascots with Nicholas Dawes. It is Volume Two in the Automotive Jewelry series. We will have a review of it for you in the near future.


The Lime Rock Park images this week are by MMR Editor Dom Miliano and will be featured with many others in a forthcoming MMR gallery. As ever, your patience as we process all this wonderful material is greatly appreciated.

Denise McCluggage informs MMR readers about her family history and the perks automotive publication writers once enjoyed, in her story The Re-Discovery of Tin Cup.


Monza logo

This weekend the F1 saga continues at Monza. Always a temple of drama, the high speed track will bring us another chapter in the Lewis/Nico saga. The freshly reconciled duo have been instructed to race hard and play nice. There will be no team orders. Rosberg’s lead in the driver’s Championship points standing, while considerable, is not insurmountable and with seven races to go, there is much drama ahead.


The Boston Cup

A reminder to circle Sunday, September 21st on your calendar as The Boston Cup, New England’s premier concours event, will take place on the Boston Common. This event is free and a wonderful opportunity to introduce the whole family to a rare slice of automotive history.

Have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa


Vintage Racing: Home of the Brave

Posted on September 4, 2014 Comments (2)

Several early Saturday mornings ago I was flipping TV channels between F1 practice and a rainy day’s ride at the Tour de France bicycle race.

Tour de France crash

Co-incidentally at virtually the same time on my TV an F1 car left the track at extremely high speed and hit the barrier wall head on at elevated speed. And several TdF riders went down on a muddy corner somewhere in France. The F1 driver walked away from an impact judged to measure 26 G’s of force which totally destroyed the car. He drove the next day. Two of the bicycle riders suffered broken collar bones, one had a broken arm and all were out of the biggest race of their year.

The following week I was in a modern shop that services vintage race cars. While Vintage racing organizations require the use of more safety equipment than was ever required in the day, it struck me that the cars themselves, as required, were as close to original as possible but most had better, safer tires and reliable engines, several had better brakes, and yet many were as unsafe today as they were originally. Shoulder harnesses are a big improvement over lap belts and helmets and fire suits hugely better, but roll bars appeared to be original and in images posted around the shop, some current drivers’ helmets exceeded them by 2 inches or more. Modern open wheel racing at the highest levels requires tethered wheels on single seaters, not here. Fuel cells are mandatory as are external electrical shut off switches. Very good. During practice three weeks ago at Virginia International Raceway a Porsche race car spun on oil at high speed and hit the tire barrier over a hundred yards away.

Spinning Corvette

Within seconds, a factory Corvette hit the same oil and, following the trajectory of the Porsche, crashed into it. The Corvette driver suffered a mild concussion and the Porsche driver had a broken arm. I shudder to think what would have happened had two vintage cars experienced the same crash. Changes to personal gear notwithstanding, the now faster and better handling 1940-50-60-70s race cars are easily as dangerous in a crash now as they were then.

Vintage racing was dangerous when it wasn’t vintage. At the front end of the grid the cars were prepared by professional race teams with proper equipment and were always in top condition. It would be a stretch to say that today’s vintage drivers, though unquestionably more experienced, could be as quick of hand or eye as they were 40 years ago.

MG-PA Special

Last weekend at Lime Rock, a vintage racer lost his life in an MG-PA Special. We love to watch those old cars race. And we all recognize that this isn’t tennis. Accidents will happen and people will be hurt. We also realize that cars must go through scrutineering before they are allowed on the track. We asked the question earlier in the year when a vintage “Penske” Camaro crashed at the Glen: Is it time for vintage racing governing bodies to take a closer look at the cars and the people who are racing to determine whether either or both are capable of handling the demands of their class of racing? After all, they are not alone out there.


Racing | IndyCar: Ends on a Whimper Not a Bang

Posted on September 4, 2014 Comments (0)

The IndyCar season came to a fast speedy, but listless, end last Saturday night in Fontana CA. Will Power is the new IndyCar Champion.

Tony Kanaan

He didn’t win the race and he didn’t have to. The race itself was interesting and Tony Kanaan deserved the win. But after all the hype about the championship, it lacked drama. All Power had to do was survive and be close to Helio Castroneves to win. In the end he beat him.

Helio was far more gracious in losing than Power was in winning and that will not serve Power well. The “gosh all I want to do is win” thing has to go away. Now he needs to be a Champion and class up.

The most interesting part of the marathon show was the interview the previously reticent Roger Penske gave to his former and at times least favorite employee, the now quite entertaining color commentator Paul Tracy. When asked what he looked for in a young driver he said: Three things. He must have won a race, he needs to be able to communicate with his engineers and he needs to be a saleable product to the sponsors. A basic and excellent formula.

The Penske Team won the championship fair and square but the Ganassi Team finished strong and the Andretti team, which dominated early, simply faded.

Auto Club Speedway logo

Unfortunately, the track determined the outcome of the race. Auto Club Speedway, once the title of a sixties pin-ball game is a horrible place to race. Built in 1997 by Roger Penske ISC group, the concept was to build a track that would rival Indy… only bigger and better. But it never worked out. The track turns out huge speeds but the surface is in such poor condition, it hasn’t been repaved in almost twenty years, that changing lanes at high speed is life threatening. The track is divided into five lanes separated by tar-filled lips that are not even or of the same consistency as the pavement. The whole track is simply dangerous.

This is not good racing, it shouldn’t be on the schedule let alone the final double points paying race. It highlights the biggest problem that the series has—poor quality tracks.

They have the teams, the drivers and even the rules to be the best series in the world. What they lack is real racing venues. Instead they have opted for circus circuits where they can terrify downtown sewer rats and race between makeshift highway barriers separating them from and cotton candy vendors and T-shirt stalls. Mercifully the Houston Parking Lot Grand Prix has been dumped, only eight more to go. Unfortunately, almost one half of their venues are a joke and the sooner they dump them the sooner they will become the serious series they once were under CART and are capable of being again.

Our humble suggestions: First—Forget South America, go to Europe; Dump downtown Toronto for two days of racing at Mosport; Drop Florida and Long Beach entirely. Go to Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca; Drop Detroit and go to Road America; Cancel Auto Club Debacle go to Montreal or Mont Tremblant.

Add four races in Europe and assume Spa and Monza are unavailable: Goodwood in England; Paul Ricard in France; Nurburgring in Germany; Portimao in Portugal.

What do you think?