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Posted on August 8, 2014 Comments (0)

Monterey Draws Nigh

Monterey

This week’s eye candy is from Monterey’s Concorso Italiano in 2010. As I look back at them I am not certain I actually took these pictures. One clue is that I appear in one of them. If these images look familiar to you, dear reader, please drop me a note and we will happily give you full credit anon. 

An 11-minute Alfa video feast from Pebble Beach Concourse (turn the sound way up), was shot by Bill Leatherman for MMR in 2010. They are Grand! And the final minute is worth the wait.

Michael Furman Photography - Porsche 356 dashboard

Michael Furman’s image this week is of a Porsche 356 dashboard.

The Weekly Leek: European Correspondent Oofy Prosser Reveals Stunning News from Ferrari’s Past!

Evans Coolant

Evans Coolant

Last week’s Goods & Services directory link to Evans Coolant drew an interesting response from MMR Newsletter reader John Gallagher and it is reprinted in part here. Your thoughts on this topic, particularly if you have specific knowledge or experience with the subject, are welcomed.

Strategy, the Intellectual Aspect of Racing

It is generally recognized that while most top race drivers, with some notable exceptions, are equally gifted regarding the physical parts of driving, not all are good strategists and few, if any, are when beginning their careers. The concept of saving fuel or tires or, the engine itself, is not natural to people who simply want to go fast. In my sports car racing days when races were 20 laps, at most, my sponsor’s strategy was simple. “Go fast” he would say, but quite intensely, and that seemed uncomplicated and plenty good enough direction for me. It also occurred to me that as a strategy, it was probably universal among my competitors and not likely to provide me much of an edge.

Scott Dixon

Last Sunday’s IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio was a race determined by strategy. Last place starter Scott Dixon was the first finisher. And that happened for three reasons: one, he had a fast car; two, he is a very good driver who knows better than most how to go fast and save fuel; and three, someone in the pits put the first two together and figured out a fueling strategy that allowed him to continue on the track while others were refueling and then stretch what little fuel he had to the end. Actually, the end plus 300 yards, which is as far as he got before running out of fuel. This was a great race on a beautiful road (not street) course, with people sitting on the grass of the hills overlooking the circuit. Perfect. The competition was good and the race entertaining.

But the winning was the result of racecraft, something we referred to last week in relation to F1. There was a time when racecraft in IndyCar appeared to be owned only by the Penske squad. That stemmed from Roger’s early racing years when his interpretation of rules often gave his cars, particularly in Trans-Am, an unfair advantage. Truth is that his real advantage was his ability to interpret the rules, prepare meticulously, demand excellence from all around him, including suppliers, and seemingly always have top drivers who followed orders. Plus the simple fact that he was and is basically smarter and more experienced than most of his competitors.

Chip Ganassi Team Racing

That sounds like a simple strategy but many of Penske’s competitors didn’t or couldn’t employ it and he won. Not that he wouldn’t take advantage of the rules if he could, but in today’s spec engines and chassis racing series, there are fewer opportunities. He doesn’t go through the we learned a lot today stuff. He learned it a long time ago and prepared for it yesterday. 

Michael Andretti

Chip Ganassi and Michael Andretti have learned how to be the same way and the Penske advantage has been somewhat neutered.

The sports cars from the Tudor United series are at Road America this weekend. Locally, the BMW people take over the lawn at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline.

Peter Bourassa

Monterey Field

Monterey

Monterey

Monterey

Monterey


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 1, 2014 Comments (2)

The market for vintage classics continues to climb from week to week; there is much speculation that this year’s Monterey auctions will top the season. Oophy Prosser handed in his Weekly Leek story early this week and ever, we are in total disbelief. Amazing! This week’s eye candy and main story is Sandy on Assignment: Initiation to the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance.

Michael Furman image is posed at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia and is of a Porsche 917LH which ran at LeMans in 1970 and was driven by Gerard Larrousse & Willi Kauhsen and finished second.

This week’s Michael Furman image is posed at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia and is of a Porsche 917LH which ran at LeMans in 1970 and was driven by Gerard Larrousse & Willi Kauhsen and finished second. Images and story are available in The Spirit of Competition.

F1’s Mid-Term Review

As we reach that point in the F1 season when all the teams take a one month hiatus we take a quick look back at the Teams and the Drivers. Overall, based on how the first half ended, the second should be far more competitive.

Teams:

Despite management changes at all but Red Bull, the major teams have not fared as well as expected. The final race at the Hungaroring only highlighted their shortcomings. Mercedes “let them race” policy reverted briefly to a more typical, “let them race as long as they do what I say” policy and they are in disarray. Ferrari have fired people back home in an effort to shake things up but trackside they are only mildly better. McLaren brought back “Big Ron” and stole Eric Bouillon from Lotus-Renault. Despite early signs of promise, the car is no better, possibly worse. Mercedes coasted through the first half with a better aero and engine package. All remnants of the Brawn era. Toto will own the second half and the jury is out on him. Lotus-Renault is a disaster, as is Sauber. The only positive hope in the second tier is Williams who have an excellent aero package and the Mercedes engine that dominated the first half. Based on Hungary, that advantage is not what it was originally and given a month to work on it Ferrari and Renault engines are likely to be stronger beginning the second half. Red Bull have won two races with Renault and their aero package is coming together. They are simply too good not to be a force in the second half.

Drivers:

More than the racing, Rosberg and Hamilton have provided the entertainment in the first half. Their soap opera will continue but they will face far greater opposition at the sharp end of the grid and their green management team will be severely tested. At Red Bull, Vettel is getting a better grip on the new car and has been very impressive of late. He will be heard from sooner rather than later. Alonso is still the class of the pack and deserves far better than his ride. Kimi continues to be governed by the cycles of the moon. The McLaren duo are okay but have to be disappointed that after a brilliant beginning in Australia, and the strongest engine in the paddock, their chassis is dirt. Button isn’t going anywhere but home and can still race. Magnusson has shown he can race but still needs seasoning. At Williams, Massa has been severely out paced by his team mate Bottas and hasn’t helped his cause by regularly making stupid mistakes. Bottas has proven to Williams that they can do better and they will. Bottas is destined for better things but if Williams can hang on to him for another year, improve their racecraft, and replace Massa, they will be a force. Grosjean and Maldonado at Lotus-Renault are better than their rides. J.E. Verne, Danil Kvyat, and Bianci deserve better and with Raikkonen, Button, Massa approaching their “sell by” dates, they will get better rides.

Alonso Real Winner of Hungarian GP. Hamilton More Lucky Than Good

There is a thin line between adulation and admiration. Nationalistic race announcers everywhere cross it with abandon. The British-Australian trio that give America its F1 commentary are no exception.

Weather and luck were the major factors in determining the winner of the Hungarian GP and some had more of the latter than others.

Starting from the pit lane should be an insurmountable handicap and prior to the safety car era, it was. Before Sir Jackie came along and mercifully put an end to the carnage, there were no safety cars and races were only stopped if the entire track was blocked. The advent of the safety car and the frequency with which it is deployed, (think of the last race when there was not a safety car) pretty much means that you could start from the parking garage and still be competitive once it has come out and closed up the field. Plus, unlike every other car on the real grid, cars beginning in pit lane can change parts and more importantly suspension settings up to the start of the race, while those on the grid are obliged to race with their qualifying set-ups. So starting from the pits is perhaps not as bad as Lewis makes it sound. Particularly if you have one of the two fastest cars.

Once the safety car is deployed nobody is more than 20 seconds from the lead and if you have one of the two fastest cars and sixty laps left, moving up is not genius. And if you have the fastest car, finishing third might be considered failure. In this case the first safety car came out just in front of Rosberg, forcing him and three others to slow and follow it around at a reduced speed. All the cars that were further behind the front four, if they hadn’t passed the pit lane entrance, had an opportunity to dive into the pits and change their tires to slicks. By the time Rosberg pitted to get slick tires his 10.5 second lead over the field had been wiped out, plus he was balked getting into his pit box and got back into the race in 11th place. Hamilton’s 33 second initial pit lane penalty was wiped out.

In our opinion, probably shared by Spanish commentators, Alonso really won that race. In reality, at the end, Ricciardo had fresher tires and was lucky. Alonso was second in a car that was possibly fourth best on the grid, on tires that had twenty laps more on them than Hamilton’s and was being hounded by a better car with fresher tires. If Alonso was ecstatic on the podium and Hamilton wasn’t, that’s why. Alonso had just given him a driving lesson.

We have mentioned elsewhere that the Mercedes team began the year taking bows as a result of the departed Ross Brawn’s effort. It was his car then, and unfortunately, it appears to be his car now. With the edge that they had at the beginning of the season they had considerably less incentive to improve it. Others, with their backs to the wall have been burning the midnight oil and they definitely have improved. All but McLaren.

Racecraft is the art or science of how to race. Preparation, strategy, and execution are all elements of racecraft. Ferrari racecraft is what failed Kimi Raikkonen during qualifying for Ferrari in Hungary. When Mercedes and Brawn parted, the Mercedes board was happy to promote home boy Toto Wolff to the position and then appointed former World Champion Niki Lauda to oversee the racecraft portion at which Brawn was a master. The Hamilton-Rosberg cock-up on Sunday demonstrated a lack of racecraft and Toto Wolff’s comments afterward demonstrated for the remainder of the paddock the chink in Mercedes’ armor. The engineers gave Hamilton and Rosberg conflicting messages and as a result, a race that might have been won by either, wasn’t. Later, Wolff admitted to the team’s error and said “If Lewis had let Nico go, he could have won the race, but as a racer, a driver, I can understand why Lewis didn’t obey. I could have gone on the radio, but we didn’t. I don’t want to play the vicious general and demand they obey the rules.” Bad news Toto. You aren’t in Kansas anymore and you just lost control of your team and probably your job. Race team management is not democracy. In case you didn’t read your contract, your job is to see that the team wins races, whether your drivers like it or not.

Spa on August 22-24 weekend should be interesting indeed.

TV: Check our MMR Motorsports Calendar. IndyCar racing this weekend from Mid-Ohio. The Tudor-United Sports Cars (which is fabulous racing) is at Mid-Ohio.

In New England the Vintage Racing Celebration is on at Loudon, NH and Tutto Italiano is on at Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline MA. See you there!

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on 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


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on July 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Le Mans is done! The world Cup is settled! The Tour de France is moist and shambling and so now a young man’s fancy turns to Monterey! This week we whet your appetite for the upcoming feast by sharing images from Pebbles past. 

Michael Furman’s image this week is a 1927 Bugatti 35C racer

Michael Furman’s image this week is a 1927 Bugatti 35C racer. Stunning! And fitting too!

Last week’s descent into the tabloid world via The Weekly Leek was great fun and enjoyed by most of you who wrote. We also received several suggestions for The Weekly Leek motto but nothing struck a chord; several were funny but too ribald for print. Keep trying team! Of greater import is the offer to write The Weekly Leek from British Motorsports writer Rockford Cantwell-Beech. In his day, Rocky was a hot Formula Ford driver with a bright future until a shunt, as the Brits call it, put paid to his career. I met Rocky at Monza three years ago where he was helping a British team organize their vintage Alfa effort. He is funnier than hell, much closer to F1 than anyone on our team, and I think he will bring credibility to The Weekly Leek. We have separated his column from the editorial and have created a spot for it Short Stories.

Andretti Autosports Stuns the Clever Ones

Masters of the 7/8 mile oval, The Andretti Autosports team won its fifth consecutive IndyCar 300 race and they did it by racing smarter than the Penske and Ganassi teams. Regular readers know that oval races are not our favorites. Indy is redeemed by its history, just as Fontana is condemned by its. In between, the remainder are what they are. But the last two races, at Pocono and Iowa, were interesting and far more entertaining than expected. In the end, with 15 laps to go, the Andretti Autosports team put on new rubber and when the race went green with 10 laps left they beat the cars that had been faster all night. Historically, that is a Penske kind of win. Ganassi driver Scott Dixon, who led 17 laps and was fighting teammate Tony Kanaan for the win, finished fourth. The TV camera caught a none-too-pleased Dixon sharing his disappointment with Ganassi team manager Mike Hull. He said the one-word expletive that said it all for everyone else.

Weekend Reminders:

David Hobbs speaks at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum tomorrow afternoon. Ticket are not for sale at the door and can be purchased via the New England Region Porsche Club of America.

We hope to see you there.

F1’s German GP is this weekend and the IndyCars are once again bouncing between the concrete barriers for a Saturday and a Sunday race in Toronto.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa

Pebble Beach - Alfa 7011

Pebble Beach Mascot

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach - The American


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on July 11, 2014 Comments (0)

This issue will have a photographic bent. Beginning with our lead image and eye candy by MMR Newsletter Editor and Photographer Dom Miliano.

Michael Furman photography -- silver Jaguar D-Type

Michael Furman’s featured image is the silver Jaguar D-Type.

Never aware that he is a car person, we often receive informative and entertaining information about photography by a Malaysian blogger named Ming Thein. His latest blog compares the two worlds in a country where import duties and taxes oblige enthusiasts of each to make hard choices.

F1 – FLASH! MMR GOES TABLOID!

MMR Publisher explains, “We Stoop to Conquer”.

Peter the Publisher says: In a desperate effort to grow our audience we are abandoning insightful commentary for rumor and innuendo. It comes more naturally to us, it is more fun, and it is cheaper. Modeled on the British tabloids and the ever irreverent The Onion, but smaller, we will be henceforth known as The Weekly Leek.

We need a motto. All suggestions are welcome and the winner will receive a Ferrari Transporter image signed by Denise McCluggage.

This is our sample; please tell us what you think.

Coronation Street debuted 54 years ago and is the second longest running soap opera production in Britain. Formula 1 is the first! One moment distraught and depressed, the next exultant and ebullient, Lewis Hamilton is the lead car occupant on an emotional roller coaster ride that appears to have countless Brits crammed into all the following cars. The lives of his and previous F1 drivers still dominate the front pages of the tabloids in Britain much as the antics of rich and infamous do in America. Seemingly, the more flawed their native heroes, the better the Brits love ‘em. Nigel Mansell (net worth $90M), the talented but emotionally unbalanced star of the ‘80s, while considered the punch line for most insider F1 jokes elsewhere, remains “their Nige”. Scoop: The Weekly Leek has learned that three weeks ago, in a private ceremony , Nige was knighted by the Queen. All did not go well. As tradition demands, his sovereign tapped him on each shoulder with her sword. Sir Nigel promptly fell to the ground writhing in pain and was taken to Royal & Ancient Dumbugger Hospital where, at his insistence, he was pronounced dead. Before him, James Hunt, only recently sanitized by Hollywood, was the perfect walking disaster that sold newspapers all day long. The will he or won’t he aspect of their lives and those of their relatives, acquaintances and dog walkers, are fodder for an insatiable public that can seemingly never get enough.

The Weekly Leek Predicts! At some point within the next two years, Hamilton will be back at McLaren and British tabloids will have their biggest sales day since Charles discussed personal hygiene with Camilla! “McLaren is mother’s milk to Lewis and the only place in the pits where he is consistently loved” Ronny Dennis recently told The Weekly Leek.

Meanwhile, the somewhat less loved Kimi Raikkonen (net worth $130M), whose crash last weekend is a metaphor for his season, and his career, has announced that when his Ferrari contract expires at the end of next year, he will no longer race in F1. Hmmm. The Weekly Leek wants to know: What is it he doesn’t get?

Flash News for Kimi! From Shakespeare’s Henry V to the troops before the battle of Agincourt: Proclaim it through my host that he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart; his passport shall be made and crowns for convoy put into his purse . “We didn’t keep you on through the end of your previous contract when you won a championship for us, and we won’t do it this time either”, said Ferrari President Monty Zemolo. If, like the folks here at The Weekly Leek, you enjoy the irony of negative achievement, you have to chuckle at the fact that the Kimster has probably taken more money from the Ferrari factory for NOT doing something, than the average Ferrari employee has earned in a career of turning up every day to work.

IndyCar – Houston Race Medical Alert!

Flash! The Weekly Leek has learned that twelve IndyCar drivers were hospitalized with kidney failure after a bumpy parking lot race last weekend in Houston! IndyCar has responded by insisting that all future parking lot event cars be equipped with onboard dialysis machines. Drivers with weak kidneys or bladders are encouraged to find a smoother series. Spectators complaining of blurred vision and sore necks from trying to watch the race were advised by British doctors to sod off.

IndyCar Holds Secret Race at Obscure Location!

Pocono Raceway, best known for being one corner short and 30 miles from the home of Mario Andretti, was the site of last week’s IndyCar race. Organizers blame low attendance on either a lack of GPS satellite access in this remote area of Pennsylvania or the Tupperware party at Mario Andretti’s home.

Success Softens Penske

After 500 miles on the Pocono tri-oval, 37 year old Juan Pablo Montoya (Net worth $35M), led 39 year old Helio Castroneves (net worth $30.2M), to an exciting one two finish over their younger competitors for their jubilant 77 year old Captain, Roger Penske (Net worth $1.1B). The Weekly Leek has learned that AARP (3.1 M served) will sponsor next year’s race and only drivers qualifying for membership will be allowed to compete. The trophy party will be at inevitable race winner Mario Andretti’s house. (After the Tupperware party.)

The average speed of the race was over 102 mph and was run caution-free for 158 laps. Montoya lost the upright winglet on his front wing when he clipped the back end of Championship points leader and teammate Will Power’s (net worth N/A) car. At another point, Power, at approximately 210 mph, made what race officials judged to be one more blocking move than allowed on teammate Castroneves. The close call earned him a drive-thru penalty that may have cost him the race and most certainly a good points paying finish. But the Captain was positively exuberant in the winner’s circle and when asked about Power’s obviously dangerous move that might have cost the team two cars at the very least, seemed unphased, announcing that “they are racers”. This mellow boys will be boys attitude is a side to Roger Penske we have never seen before. Prozac?

The Weekly Leek Late Breaking news: Bernie (net worth 4.2B) announces Vatican City Grand Prix for 2015! More next week.

Don’t forget to pass this on to a friend and also to tell us what you think about The Weekly Leek.

Peter Bourassa
Head Leeker