MMR Blog

Iconic XKE Reborn as Eagle E-Type Speedster

Posted on August 4, 2011 Comments (1)

If we all list our five favorite sports cars, somewhere in everyone’s list is the Jaguar XKE. As a design, it was revolutionary, simple, clean and exquisite.

Eagle E-Type Speedster

Eagle E-Type Speedster

As a car, it had its flaws.

For some, the seats were thin and uncomfortable, the wipers worked perfectly on the right hand side, the British side, not so well on the left. The US lights sucked. The maintenance schedule for servicing the 28 greasing points was an onerous “every 1,000 miles”. Rust.

The list of little things goes on. In fairness, with time, Jaguar addressed most of the issues, but by then it wasn’t the same car.

Fast Forward to 2011 and a small company in Britain called Eagle E-Types has introduced a brand new Lightweight E-Type Speedster. Same iconic body style but with current state of the art parts throughout. Handmade and perhaps even more stunning, reportedly for an equally staggering 600,000 Euros.

Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar E-Type

Despite raves about the current offering, Jaguar has never mass produced a more desirable car than the XKE. They own the name and the design, they have the engineering and the parts, they have a dealer network to sell and service it.

Why don’t they build a new first series XKE?

What do you think? And what do you think it should cost?

The Senna Film

Posted on June 28, 2011 Comments (0)

There is an aspect of human nature that tends to forgive shortcomings if they walk arm in arm with redeeming charm. People so fortunately possessed are called ‘rascals’ or ‘clever devils’. It can be the most hopeful aspect of our beings that we forgive transgressions committed with humor or style.

Ayrton Senna 1989

Ayrton Senna 1989

Film works best when celebrating that conflict. Famous movies such as To Catch a Thief, Dirty Harry, The Magnificent Seven, all pit unorthodox, even disreputable characters against the bad guys and the establishment, and we love it. A very successful feature film about two loveable train robbers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was based on real-life characters. The originals robbed and killed innocent people and were not quite as lovable, handsome or funny. When news of their violent death in South America reached the good folks back home, most breathed a sigh of relief.

Seventeen years after his death, a compelling new feature film celebrating the life of Aryton Senna, is about to reach the theatres. It has been released in Brazil and Europe and exceptionally well received. Based on rare archival film and interviews with those close to him in the sport, the filmmakers bring us their portrait of a brilliant racer who loved God, his family, his country and winning motor races.

To say that Ayrton Senna was a complex person would be an understatement. His ruthless intensity behind the wheel, his overt love of God and family, his generosity to those less fortunate, his combative relationships all made him the stuff of legend.

Formula 1 is a car vs. car, team vs. team, and at times in its history has been a country vs. country competition. Set in glamorous locations around the world, during the season these intense rivalries are renewed every two weeks. For a brief period, at its center was where Ayrton Senna needed to be. In a world where time is measured in 1000ths of a second, winners are those most often on the edge of perfection and disaster.

Not all teams or cars are equal, so winning in Formula 1 racing means having the best equipment matched to the best drivers. Each team has two cars. Theoretically the difference between them is the drivers. For a driver to lose to a competitor in a better car is no shame. However to lose to a teammate in an identical car requires explanation. Drivers generally begin their careers in lesser cars, prove their worth against other proven drivers, and if they are judged qualified they move up the ladder of better cars. Senna was exceptional and was soon paired with the then World Champion, the Frenchman Alain Prost, at McLaren Cars.

The elements of a classic tragedy were thus set. The passionate Senna’s belief in self was total. He had dominated previous teammates and intended to dominate Prost. The cerebral Prost’s proven worth and ego could not allow anyone else to win. Racing for the same team in the equal cars meant that between these two men, someone had to lose. The argument would be settled at speed.

Every sport has what participants consider sporting rules. Motorsports first competitors were generally men of means: sportsmen. Winning honorably was as important as winning. Senna and Prost did not so much race as war. In doing so, they obliged the rules keepers to either ban them or rewrite the rules. So compelling was their battle that the governing body of the sport, the FIA, changed the rules and thereby changed F1 racing forever.

Many could argue that it was not for the better.

Just as Senna’s death was mourned by his many fans, it could be argued that many fans of Formula 1 breathed a sigh of relief.


Father's Day Gifts You Deserve!

Posted on June 16, 2011 Comments (0)

In a calendar year, there are far too few opportunities for the displays of affection which many MMR Community enthusiasts so richly deserve.

Christmas, our Birthday and Father's Day are it!

The MMR Resource Directory specializes in finding only the best products for our community. The following are links to our favorite categories in the MMR Resource Directory, and we've made it easy for you by choosing a resource from each category that features special and unique gifts that we would all like to receive. 

Let MMR help your loved ones better appreciate just how special you are! And, just in case they don't really get it, pick something out for yourself.

Remember this month's MMR motto: We deserve great gifts!

All kidding aside, Father's Day can be the best day of the year and we at MMR Community Headquarters wish you a great one.

Please don't forget to support all the wonderful suppliers who support our Community. They are what makes MMR possible.

Happy Father's Day!

Indy’s 100th:Winning is the Sum of Many Parts | Part II

Posted on June 4, 2011 Comments (0)

The People

Despite the money spent to make it happen and the money to be won, the Indianapolis 500 is a race of “haves” and “have-nots” and there are far more “have-nots” than “haves”.

Dan Wheldon Indy 500

Dan Wheldon sharing the milk

The large teams, Penske, Ganassi, Andretti, and Letterman Rahal bring in millions to run their operations. The middling teams KV Racing, Dreybold Rhinehart and other lesser knowns struggle all the time to bring in fresh money to keep going. Then there are the smaller one- and two-car efforts that rely on drivers who pay for their ride with either personal fortunes or corporate sponsors. They struggle to make the show and pray for the winnings to cover expenses. Although 33 cars line up to race at Indy, they are not all equal. Better funded teams have better equipment, better drivers and far less stress. But they do all have one thing in common. They are there because they are competitive and they love racing. While everyone comes to Indy to make money, money is only part of the story.

Dan Wheldon’s win was a great story and gives hope to everyone in the paddock. The Penskes and the Ganassis know that they were not beaten by a better driver or better equipment. It was race strategy and execution that allowed Weldon to win. And one more thing, a small thing called luck. His good luck and several other drivers’ bad luck.

Wheldon is a sympathetic character. He is talented, telegenic, and has a great story. He was cut from a permanent drive at the beginning of the year by lack of funding. Indy was his one chance this year to be noticed and perhaps pick up a ride for the remainder of the season or sign a contract with a big team for next season. He has won before and he knows just how important it is that the stars align for it to happen again. In an interview last week, he explained that he had several offers to drive but it was important that he have a car capable of winning. Car failure or a low place finish could mean the end of his career.

Dan Wheldon Indy 500

When his friend Bryan Herta, a respected former top driver, now team owner, called to offer him a drive, Wheldon knew this wasn’t a top team and he bluntly explained his situation and asked one question, “Can you give me a car that can win?” His friend knew that the question wasn’t about a car; it was about a team that could execute under pressure, a team that could field equipment that was capable of winning the 500 mile race. That meant a team that would always get the same quality parts and pit lane support as the big guys. Tires and engines are the key components and getting the right parts is crucial. Those parts only go to the teams that the manufacturers deem capable of winning. And everyone in the pits knows this and knows who those teams are.

In the Winner’s Circle, when Dan Wheldon thanked Firestone and Honda he meant it and he had good reason. And all the people in the pits knew exactly what he meant. They took care of him. He got top stuff. As for his sponsors, those whose money made it possible, he mentioned them and he made their year. People who have never heard of Rast jeans before Sunday might just support a company that put its name on the side of a car that went against the big guys. Lots of people and companies at Indy won with Dan Wheldon.

But the biggest winner was the Indianapolis Speedway.

Indy’s 100th:Winning is the Sum of Many Parts | Part I

Posted on June 3, 2011 Comments (0)

The Track

This past Sunday’s Indy centenary celebration was the perfect example of why the Indianapolis 500 race has survived for 100 years. It was unpredictable, exciting and the essence of what Indycar racing is all about!

Satellite view of Indianapolis Speedway

Satellite view of the Indianapolis Speedway

The original 2½ mile oval was paved with bricks, hence the nickname; “The Brickyard”. Dick Gail, the very literate former Racing Director of the Champion Spark Plug Co., called it “Grant Wood at speed.” Picture American Gothic and imagine a helmeted Parnelli Jones in the picture and you get his drift. Indy is simply a very old track on which very fast modern cars are made to adapt in order to compete. Unlike the Indianapolis Speedway, today’s ideal racetrack would be much shorter and have steeply banked corners.

100 years ago a 500 mile race on a track of this size posed unique challenges. The distance itself made simply finishing an accomplishment. Also the primary car design consideration was speed. No serious thought was given to fire prevention or safety equipment. Quite the opposite, it was felt that being thrown from an out of control car was preferable to staying in it. So survival was a factor.

Aside from instant fame, what really attracted entrants to the Speedway was the instant fortune that came with it. The event was the premier American motor race of the year and the purse was so big that entrants would modify otherwise uncompetitive dirt track race cars in an attempt to make the show and thereby win a piece of the purse. Qualifying and finishing guaranteed a handsome payday and would fund many a future race weekend, or purchase or fund the building of a newer and faster car. An entire field of purpose built Indy cars as we now know them, didn’t develop until the late forties.

Surprisingly, it is the original design of the track that 100 years later continues to pose the major challenge to competitors. Cars that travelled at 100mph on hard, narrow tires, had virtually the same problem turning quick times as today’s 250mph cars do on sticky wide ones. Indy’s long straights allow cars to travel into the corners with far more speed than the relatively flat turns will allow them to sustain. Drivers must find the proper balance of speed, power and grip that will allow them to skid, or more accurately, rotate the car so that it comes out of the corner with maximum momentum and prepared to accept the application of full power once again. Because the skidding process scrubs off speed, the wider the arc of the turn, the less the skidding and the higher the entrance and exit speed. Unfortunately, the wider arc, the greater the distance to be travelled and that represents greater time expended. The fastest time around Indy requires almost brushing the outside wall at the entrance to the turn with the outside wheel, clipping the inside edge of the track at the center of the turn with the inside front wheel and almost brushing the outside wall again at its exit. That compromise between the shortest distance and the highest speed describes the fastest way through the turn and it allows the driver to achieve a higher exit speed on the subsequent straight. Doing it consistently is the driver’s challenge.

Indianapolis 500 100th Anniversary logo

So today’s Indy cars have the same issue at the original racers. Where and when to lift off the throttle and where and when to get back into it? At one period during the evolution of the Indianapolis race car—the last days of the front engine Offenhouser powered cars—there was a short period where the tires and the car design had evolved to a point that allowed brave and talented drivers to go through Turn Four without lifting. Because cars qualified singly, everyone in the pits could hear the sound of the engine and knew when a driver lifted his foot from the gas pedal. Drivers like Foyt, Jones and Andretti were in demand because they could do it consistently whether or not they had the best car. They may be celebrated today by race fans for their wins, but they were respected in the pits for their talent and their ability to get the maximum out of a car.

Aerodynamics, tires and the suspension set-ups determine how well the chassis works. Wind speed, temperature and track conditions determine the adjustments engineers must make to the set up to maximize effectiveness of their equipment. That is the engineer’s challenge. The driver can also make his own limited adjustments to the car as the race progresses and conditions and/or competitors demand.

As the race progresses a building up of small pieces of used rubber scrubbed from the edges of the racing tires forms to the outside of the line or perfect arc. This pinches the usable line inwards and the outside wall no longer becomes the furthest usable boundary. The line where the marbles or loose rubber dirt begins, determines the outer line which becomes what drivers call the dirty area and which is visible as a different texture and gray in color. This gray area inhibits grip and the car, particularly in turns where there is sideways pressure, becomes uncontrollable and slides up into the wall as though on ice or marbles. This tightening of the racing arc or line means slower entrance and exit speeds and diminishes the actual racing surface on which cars can pass.

When Indy rookie JR Hilldebrand went into the last turn leading the Indy 500, he had one backmarker—a slower non-competitive car—between him and the chequered flag. He had two choices; back off, thus scrubbing speed, and follow the slower car through the turn on the clean line. Knowing that Dan Wheldon was not far behind and not having a car in his way, may have been able to maintain greater momentum through the turn and catch him before the finish line, Hildebrand chose instead to put two inside wheels on the clean line and two in the “gray” area and hope that his car would stick. It didn’t and he slid up into the wall and crashed. His slide took him across the line in second place.

The clean racing line is very narrow and at elevated speeds cars must have all four wheels on clean surface through the turns to perform safely.

JR Hildebrand learned that today. Dan Wheldon knew it.