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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


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


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 29, 2014 Comments (0)

 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2014

The process of recovering from the events at Monterey Week has less to do with sleep than sorting out everything that happened there and how to tell the story to you, our loyal readers.

 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2014

This week we will share the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance images in the Blind Pig Gallery on our website. I remember standing somewhere in the middle of the field, looking around at all the exceptional cars, the exceptional setting and saying to myself, for a car guy, this is the best place to be in the whole world today. Thank you Pebble Beach people.


Lime Rock Park Historic Festival poster

The Lime Rock Historic Festival will be the best place to be this weekend and we will be there beginning today. 

Vintage race cars will be on track today and tomorrow, Sunday will feature a huge concours and Monday it is back to racing. Tough to beat.

Please note that several notable cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection will be on display all weekend. For a sneak peek at what you'll see, here's a gallery featuring Tony Singer's photographs of the Ralph Lauren car collection in the exhibition “L’Art de L’Automobile”.

See you there.


Racing

Spa, VIR, and Sonoma are road courses and they benefit the sport hugely. Both the drivers and the spectators see racing as it was meant to be. No temporary pit, potholed streets, or concrete walls the whole way round. This past weekend may have been the most entertaining motorsports viewing of the year. So let’s get to it.

F1: Rosberg Turns Whine into Wine

Nico Rosberg

The soap opera goes on. Even after the summer break and the advancements made by Ferrari and Red Bull, Mercedes continues to be the class of the field. On a long track like Spa, they are as much as a second to two seconds better and in F1 that is huge. The drama of the show, decidedly different from the driving of the show continues to be the conflict between the drivers on the leading team. Meanwhile the driving spotlight falls on Red Bull’s Ricciardo, who is both good and lucky, and Williams’ Bottas, who is due a top step on the podium soon. He consistently does well while avoiding conflict. McLaren’s Magnussen’s fight with the far more experienced Alonso, Button, and Vettel on older tires was really entertaining.

Jackie Stewart

The Brits believe they invented F1. Since the F1 industry is based in Britain and Brits have held the major positions at most teams at some point, it is not difficult to understand from whence they come. All European countries support their F1 drivers and in England Button and Hamilton are national heroes. Since North Americans have not had F1 winners since the Villeneuves, our coverage has, of necessity, always had a British filter. Whether it is David Hobbs or before him Sir Jackie Stewart, we have always accepted their analysis of how the cow ate the cabbage. I enjoy reading Denise McCluggage’s view of F1. Unfettered by having to defend or promote an American hero, it seems to me that she writes about pure racing. Read her recent piece on Vettel’s whining. But getting back to the Brits. In Hamilton they have their classic tragically flawed hero. Possibly, and I stress “possibly”, the most naturally gifted driver on the grid, he understands the car and the racing but he is woefully pitiful in what we have previously referred to here as racecraft. His dilemma is that in partnering with Rosberg, who probably, and I stress “probably” is not as naturally gifted, is a master of racecraft. While unquestionably affected by being booed for his second place finish, he immediately explained that only a few of Lewis’s British fans were responsible, thereby marginalizing Hamilton’s constituency to a few rabid Brits, which can only have infuriated them more. Then, while Hamilton woefully pleads that he was in front and he had the line, Rosberg, when questioned, politely explains that he hasn’t yet seen the video and that it would be unfair to comment until he has. From what we could see on the US broadcast, Hamilton unquestionably had the line and didn’t leave room. Rosberg could have backed out earlier and was wrong to expect that Hamilton would leave him room. But he was too stubborn to avoid a collision and so they did. It cost Rosberg a pit stop for a new nose, and possibly the win and it cost Hamilton the race points he would have received for winning or finishing second. It is not hard to believe that had Hamilton’s tire not been cut he would have won the race and had absolutely no sympathy for Rosberg’s plight.

Mercedes was the big loser and management are understandably annoyed. This was an embarrassment to them, and they made both their employees aware of their displeasure. But the gamesmanship between Hamilton and Rosberg continued to fascinate. While Lewis dejectedly lamented his loss to the media, Rosberg, recognizing that the British press would never love him as they do their beloved Lewis, accepted that he could have backed off. His acceptance was brilliant and I wouldn’t find it hard to believe that once he got away from the embarrassing trophy presentation a little birdie whispered in his ear that this could work for him. In one fell swoop he mollified his team management, further incensed a constituency that Rosberg has little chance of winning over and sent a message to Hamilton not to do that again unless he wanted the same result. It was clever of Rosberg to accept some responsibility, even if he didn’t feel it or wasn’t in the slightest bit responsible. He won the points, which was his goal and handed Hamilton a lesson in the mind game known as racecraft.

The Rosberg-Hamilton situation is in many ways reminiscent of the Prost-Senna battles of their day. It is little remembered that while Senna enjoyed the adulation of the masses, he won but three world Championships to Prost’s four. Only two other drivers have won more. And in the end, to Prost, to Senna and to history, nothing mattered more.

IndyCar

Roger Penske

On a far friendlier and less Machiavellian note, the battle for the IndyCar Championship between the Penske drivers continued at the Northern California Sonoma road course. The long (2.4 mile) track, seemingly unaffected by the previous night’s earthquake hosted the second to last race of the season and the quick but erratic points leader and pole sitter Will Power blew the lead and a good points to finish tenth. He picked up 24 points to teammate Castroneves’ 12 giving him a 51 point lead going in to the final double-points paying race this weekend at Fontana California. A win at Fontana is worth 104 points; Power won it last October.

The winner of the Sonoma race was Scott Dixon who has emerged from the shadow of former team leader Dario Franchitti to finally be recognized for the excellent and clever driver he is. A third Penske driver, Juan Pablo Montoya also showed he will be a force to be reckoned with next year. The fiery Montoya has calmed somewhat since his first IndyCar go-around but he is still very feisty and he will definitely be a noisy challenger next year. He lead Sunday’s race at one point and finished fifth overall. This weekend’s race at the dreaded Fontana oval will be very exciting.

It was stated several times over the weekend that IndyCar has never been more competitive. This is difficult to prove but there is little doubt that this new product has the cars, the drivers, and the sponsorship base. It requires a larger enthusiast base and better quality venues. Once the latter has been addressed, the former will come.

Tudor United Sports Car Racing

The verdant VIR race track has only pavement in common with Sonoma. But that is the most important similarity. Virginia International Raceway is 3.3 miles long and hosted the 2 hours and 45 minutes that constituted last Sunday’s Oak Tree Grand Prix feature race for sports cars. Once again, kudos to the people who are adjusting the rules that allow their two series to come together and be competitive. 

Giancarlo Fisichella

The Risi 458 Ferrari driven by F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer beat back a Porsche, two BMWs, and a Viper to win a thrilling wire to wire all sports car race. The final ten minutes of this race were epic and the drivers fought bumper to bumper to produce a fantastically entertaining race.

Corvette continues to lead the series but Viper are giving them a great run and were exceptionally fast at VIR. The next race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on September 19-20 (circle the date) will be equally interesting as this 3.4 mile track also favors big fast cars.

The final race in the series will be the Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance race at Road Atlanta on October 3 & 4. Hopefully our hero Tommy Kendall will be co-driving this race in a Viper.

I must confess that the multiple classes in the United Sports Car series still confuse me and that at some tracks the combining of the prototype and sports cars just makes for cluttered racing. I have determined that I like both kinds of racing, simply not together.

 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2014


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 22, 2014 Comments (2)

In the opinion of some, there may be a better concours than Pebble Beach, and there may be a better racetrack for vintage racing than Laguna Seca. There may be a better celebration of Italian cars than Concorso Italiano and there may even be a better street show and setting than Ocean Drive in Carmel, but all believe there is nowhere else in the car world where they all come together as well as at Monterey Week.

This week we have a wonderful American car story by Denise McCluggage, who judged at Pebble Beach last weekend, and an image (below) from Michael Furman of a 1922 Bugatti T23 Brescia 1361.

Image from Michael Furman of a 1922 Bugatti T23 Brescia 1361

We hope Porsche fans took advantage of the individually signed Porsche poster we offered in last week’s MMR Newsletter. There are very few left and the offer goes out next week to the 12,000 subscribers of Sports Car Market.

Racing

F1 returns this weekend for the Spa-Belgium GP, one of the best on the F1 Calendar. While little testing is done during this period, look for the teams to be much closer in speed at Spa.

The Milwaukee Mile:

Will Power for Team Penske

Before sports car road racing came to places like Pebble Beach and Watkins Glen, there was already a rich history of oval track racing on wooden boards and dirt flat tracks. Founded in 1903, the famous mile was paved in 1954. Front engine roadsters with skinny tires put on a far different show than the modern Indy cars with high down force and fat tires. There really was only one line around here and Will Power took pole and that line to lead most of the race. That single lane limited the passing opportunities and, though a good race, it was not judged to be an exciting one. On camera, the grandstand appeared sparsely populated but organizers announced that attendance was 30K, 2K more than last year.

IndyCar has two races with 200 points left to hand out to the winners; Will Power of Team Penske has a 39 point lead over teammate Helio Castroneves. Stay tuned to your sets for the next two weeks as the battle continues. (Check our MMR Calendar for details.)

Concours

Monterey: Lamborghini wins!

This has been a huge year for Lamborghini in America. Continuing their tradition of unpronounceable model names the Huracan (hoor-a-can) made its North American debut at Amelia and was an instant hit. Two months later Bonhams sold a vintage Countach (Kun ta) for over a million dollars at Greenwich. Gooding sold one for almost $2M and a 400GT for almost $900K. Plus another Lamborghini 400GT won best of Show at the Concorso Italiano. Word on the street is that a Huracan sold today will be delivered in 12 months. Lamborghini is doing well.

Over the next few weeks we will share stories and images of our Monterey adventure.

Pebble Beach

Ferrari wins!

John Shirley’s 1954 Scaglietti bodied 375 Ferrari Coupe won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and became the first post war car to win Pebble Beach since 1968.

Maserati was the featured marque but John Shirley’s 1954 Scaglietti bodied 375 Ferrari Coupe won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and became the first post war car to win Pebble Beach since 1968. It was commissioned by Italian film director Roberto Rossellini and was Scaglietti’s first for Ferrari. The car is a fitting winner as no other car on the field matched it for the combination of style and story. At the time Roberto Rossellini owned it, he was married and involved in a notorious affair with actress Ingrid Bergman. Legend has it that the two were driving along the Italian coast and stopped the car to walk on the beach. Upon their return they found a lovely fresh fish, wrapped in newspaper, had been left on the passenger seat with a note thanking them for leaving such beautiful car for them to view.

Twenty Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa’s made for a rather spectacular presentation. All but one had been restored.

Concorso Italiano

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess.

Amidst a sea of red 308-355-360-430-458 and other Ferraris, some rarer pearls do appear. This is a joyous show populated mostly by Ferrari Club of America member cars. The invited designer was Zagato and they displayed a gaggle of Zagato designed cars. The most sought after car of the weekend was the new Alfa 4C. While, like many others, we applaud, nay celebrate, Alfa’s return, we cannot say that we are impressed much by the Lotus derived styling. Here is an image of a Zagato TZ3 Stradale Alfa that really did impress.

Alfa

Also an Intermeccanica Italia with a 351 Ford engine that reminds us all of the glorious ISO-Bizzarini, Apollo, deTomaso era of Italian chassis-American engine cars are also appreciating.

Intermeccanica Italia

The winning car, deservedly, in the heart of Ferrari country, was a lovely Lamborghini 400GT.

Lamborghini 400GT

See you next week.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 15, 2014 Comments (0)

Porsche 917

This is our final issue before Monterey and it turns out to be heavily weighted to Porsche. In Monterey, we will attend the introduction of two new Michael Furman books, Bespoke Mascots and Porsche Unexpected. We will report on both these books shortly. 

Michael Furman image from the Simeone Foundation’s The Spirit of Competition and is their 1975 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33

Meanwhile our Michael Furman image this week is from the Simeone Foundation’s The Spirit of Competition and is their 1975 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33. Stare intently at those exhausts and you can just hear that 2L V8 engine screaming around the Targa.

This week’s The Weekly Leek is a dramatic and amazing revelation from Germany’s Porsche marketing.

Speaking of Porsche, This week’s MMR Goods and Services Directory offering is UNBELIEVABLE! Don’t wait on this one because there are not many left and we think it is the most important Porsche Racing piece we have ever offered.

Tony Stewart

Our Racing essay this week is about the Tony Stewart incident at Canandaigua and the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen.

If you are at Monterey say Hi (508-932-7362). If not, have a great weekend and remember that IndyCar are at Milwaukee this weekend.

Peter Bourassa